Monday, March 30, 2009

I walked

Last week, I walked away from something I love very much, both personally and professionally. It hurt a lot, and I am carrying a fair amount of anger and resentment around right now (although I’ve managed to let a lot go the last couple of days, which is why I’m able to write about it).

I resigned from athletics at my school. As you may know, for the last 7 years, I’ve been my school’s athletic director as well as its varsity soccer coach. Both of these positions have been self-created (I was asked initially by our executive director if I’d be interested in building a soccer program, and I created the AD position to support that work). I was given the freedom initially to make the work my own, and I did just that. It started with soccer, which in my tenure went from being an afterthought with just 8 students involved in its first incarnation to a championship co-ed team with more than 30 students at tryouts this past year. I grew our ultimate Frisbee program next, which was originally started by a student (she graduated, and I rolled it forward). Then I added cross-country, and helped started a league for all these sports to play in so the students had the opportunity to interact with other schools like us. Things were developing quite well, and the students were responding to it with high interest and involvement, despite their long school days and high academic expectations.

It all started to change when the administration unilaterally decided (over my objection) that XC wouldn’t be allowed to continue after the first coach left, but it really started going downhill when we had a change of leadership two years ago. It reached a point this year where I got tired of being told, in essence, that the work of expanding our offerings would no longer be supported.

It’s more complicated than that, but to make a long story short, I said that, if it’s going to mean that be subject to the whims of 3 separate administrators, none of whom has an abiding interest in what I'm doing, and any one of whom can unilaterally quash years worth of work simply by saying "Well, *I'm* not approving it," (which is what happened last week) then they could have it back.

I'll fight tooth and nail for a lot of things, but a situation like that is just not worth it.

The thing that makes this painful, though, is not the job. The job was never what it was about. It’s the fact that I won’t get to continue working with students I have built quality relationships with. It hurts that my school’s new administration team, out of its newfound need to piss on everything, has poisoned the one thing that allowed me to nurture those relationships outside of the classroom—and that I really can’t say anything about it without endangering my full-time job (which now feels a lot more like a job).

I met with the kids from my soccer team to tell them the news face-to-face. That was tough. They asked a lot of questions: Was soccer going to continue? Would the administration advertise the coaching and AD jobs, or would they let it all die. What about the league? What could *they* do? I had to tell them I don’t have any answers, except to say that they should talk to the administration. The thing is (and I had a hard time not telling the kids this) that the administration has worked very hard to assert itself as a hierarchical power in the last couple of years and, by their actions, are intimating they’ve got a plan, a plan that does not seem to include athletics.

It certainly will not include athletics with me as part of it.


Kizz said...

Er.....want to say something...don't have a lot of brain power to translate emotion into words...uh...sorry. Sorry.

Mrs. Chili said...

Really? For as much as you're angry and frustrated, it is by far the best thing that you walk away now, I think. I'm not sure that your continuing would do anything more than crush you and make you angry and bitter and resentful (more so, even than you already are).

Do you think the kids will organize and fight to keep their programs alive? THAT would be something worth supporting, for sure; talk about your experiential education!