New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | August 19, 2022

Editorial: Balancing two jobs while trying to still give back to the community

By Andre Jones | August 3, 2022 12:12 pm

There are times where I can’t make every community event or meeting. Similar to most people today, I work two jobs. I am blessed to do so, and I continue to remain unbiased in what I do.

But sometimes, people wonder if I favor one job over another. I don’t do that, but I also don’t deny that my athletic duties are more of a passion to keep the community of Charles City going. However, there is also a reality when I have to try to break things down to people of why I do both jobs and tasks.

I have decided for this editorial to give people an insight of my balance and what I do to try to keep my community afloat with high school athletics. Unfortunately, there are factors beyond my control to do so. This is my story and several others in my community have this viewpoint as well.

Here is an excerpt of what I wrote last week on social media:

This is coming from my viewpoint about where we are and not the schools, but sometimes you have to see what I’m dealing with as an athletic director. I’ve been transparent in the past with each of you and feel free to share because I want you all to try to come to grasp of what I am dealing with.

This is year five for me as an athletic director. I am thankful for the opportunity that was bestowed upon me. But the job hasn’t come without its fair share of hiccups and setbacks.

As we enter Fall sports season, I will be blunt and tell you that the turnout for participation this year over the next week will have a significant impact on the direction of Fall sports for years to come. Since I’ve been here, we have had only one season of Fall sports over the last five years. In Fall of 2019, we had both football and volleyball. But since then, we haven’t had any of those teams fielded. Granted COVID-19 took away one of those years, but at the same time interest has dwindled in those sports, especially football.

As an athletic director, I have continuously done everything within my capability to promote sports. I have worked with providers to offer $10 physicals, I have slowly integrated new sports for younger student-athletes to get familiar with the games due to a lack of recreational offerings, and I have a great staff of coaches at the helm trying to do so much for so little compensation. We coach because we want kids to have the opportunity, not because of the pay.

But now, I am going to have to sit down and consider a lot of factors if our Fall sports do not get off the ground and push forward. What many people do not understand is that despite if we have Fall sports or not, there are things that have to be paid for. We pay a fee to have sports at our school to the Virginia High School League, and for football, I have to pay for football helmets to be reconditioned, even if we did not use them. This has to take place every two years so for the last four years, the helmets had to be reconditioned even if we didn’t have a team.

Another factor that makes football different than other sports is that it works in two-year cycles essentially when it comes to scheduling. So, while sports like volleyball, basketball, baseball, softball, and track can have schedules set each year, I am already working on football for 2023-2024 and 2024-2025. Other school divisions have already asked for games, and I have tentatively scheduled them, but if we continue to not field a team, these schools will ultimately drop us from their schedule. Also, I do not want to burden these schools with the “what ifs” of our athletic department and if we field a team. That’s disrespectful to them.

One of the final things that not having Fall sports will do is not support me in any requests to try to get funding for that sport. A couple of examples is that we need both new uniforms and new sleds for our football team. In fact, we need uniforms for a majority of our athletics teams. But it’s very hard to go to upper administration and ask for uniforms ranging from $5,000 in basketball, softball, baseball, etc. and $10,000 for football if we don’t have enough to field a team. Similar, how can I support asking for $15,000 for a five-man blocking sled for football if we don’t have 11 athletes to put on the field?

I’m not saying these things to say I won’t stop trying. I’m saying that I need more support from the community. I need more support from families. I need more participation from student-athletes.

But I can’t force parental involvement. I can’t tell a student-athlete, “Oh you have to come out and play sports.” It doesn’t work like that. This is a different generation.

Yes, Charles City County High School is one of the smallest schools in the state of Virginia, but I can tell you that I would go to battle for my student-athletes and coaching staff at any cost. But I can’t fight this alone and I can’t continue to defend something if there aren’t any student-athletes who want to participate in sports.

I debated for a while if I wanted to post this, but I am at that point where people continuously ask the same questions over and over again because they don’t like the answers that were given the first time. I can add new sports if I have the support, the numbers, and the reasoning. However, we can lose sports just as quick as we add them. I have to make smart decisions to benefit the programs of the schools.

I am going to continue to make opportunities for our student-athletes, but I am also going to have some tough decisions and conversations about what we do offer.
As we head into Fall sports, remember that the student-athletes have to meet the criteria set, have their athletic information on file, and the parent/guardian has to attend a seminar along with their parent.

Charles City County High School sports will only go as long as student-athletes are willing to participate in them and form a team.

Thanks for reading this. Please send your prayers as Fall sports will be in full swing next week, but the turnout will have an effect on programs for years to come.