Baldwin-Whitehall athletic coordinator embraces challenge of new role

Wednesday, January 16, 2019 | 3:27 PM

John Saras is passionate about his alma mater — there’s little doubt he bleeds purple and white.

Saras, known as “Jay” to his friends, grew up in the Baldwin-Whitehall School District and has been employed there for almost 20 years.

He was a math teacher at Harrison Middle School from 1999-2012, and has served as an assistant principal at Baldwin High School since 2012.

This year, the 43-year-old educator has added another title to his stellar resume. Along with his administrative duties at the high school, he has been working as the new athletic coordinator since the start of the school year.

Saras graduated from Baldwin in 1993, then earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics at Pitt in 1997. He went on to earn a graduate degree in mathematics education at Pitt in 1999

Saras also attended California (Pa.) University and received a degree in sports management studies in 2008, along with principal’s certification in 2010.

He took time from his busy schedule to participate in a question-and-answer interview about his role as athletic coordinator:

Q: How many sports at Baldwin do you oversee during the school year?

A: I oversee 21 varsity programs and five club programs.

Q: How would you define your role as athletic coordinator?

A: I think it is tough to define because each day is filled with multiple responsibilities. The work inside the Baldwin High School athletic office would include topics such as budgeting; coach, player and parent communication; academic and athletic standards of being a student-athlete; permits; facilities and scheduling, to name a few.

The work outside would include facility management, overseeing events and fundraising opportunities, to again name a few. Each day is a new day that brings new challenges.

Q: What were some of the transitional challenges at the beginning of the school year?

A: They focused on the new responsibilities of athletics as a whole. I tried to be as resourceful to our coaches as possible. The transition was new for everyone, and I think we worked together to make the fall season a successful one.

Q: How has the planning/organizational process gone this winter as compared to the fall season?

A: The winter was more manageable based on the experience from the fall. Our coaches in the school district are the utmost professionals in all that they do. Their willingness to work together and provide a well-rounded experience for all our student-athletes assisted in the planing/organizational process.

Q: What have been some of the most rewarding aspects so far in your role as athletic coordinator?

A: The student-athlete experience is a rewarding experience at Baldwin High School. Yes, it is great to see wins on the playing fields. However, it is just as great to see wins in the classroom.

Q: What have been some of the most challenging aspects?

A: Balancing responsibilities. It is my goal to give everyone involved my best effort. But sometimes I have to balance the effort to make sure all responsibilities are addressed.

Q: How do you split your time/duties in your two jobs within the district? What is a typical school day like for you?

A: There is not a truly defined split for my day. Sometimes, athletics overtakes the day (and night), while sometimes, academics is the focus of the day. It all depends what the day brings.

Q: Who was the most influential person(s) in your academic career?

A: My parents (John and Bonnie). The high expectations for academics, along with balancing life outside of school, was a staple with them. My parents started with those expectations early on, and they continued throughout college.

Q: Do you have a favorite sport?

A: If I was to answer, I would get myself in trouble with all of the other sports. I can honestly tell you I enjoy all of the sports because they all have something different to offer in terms of preparation and competition. And being in this new role, I have been able to get an appreciation for what each sport offers to our student-athletes.

Outside of the work day, I thoroughly enjoy playing golf. Golf allows me the opportunity to relax and get away from the responsibilities of my profession. In addition, I follow all sports, but my favorite time of year is March. College basketball with March Madness is fantastic.

Q: Did you participate in any sports in high school?

A: I loved athletics growing up, but (I played) nothing organized through high school. When I went to college, I was introduced to the game of rugby. I played three and one-half years of rugby at the University of Pittsburgh, then continued with the sport after graduation with the South Pittsburgh Rugby team for 10 years.

Q: What was your favorite subject at Baldwin?

A: My favorite subject was mathematics. My love for mathematics actually started at Harrison Middle School with Mr. Steve Rowland. He was such an influence in the classroom, then later as a mentor as a teacher. From there I just continued to enjoy the subject area.

In addition, I enjoyed writing for the Purbalite at Baldwin High School. Writing for the Purbalite was an outlet in terms of enjoying life at Baldwin.

Q: What is something people may not know about you?

A: I love to cook.

Q: Are you a regular book reader? If so, what is the title of the last book you read?

A: When time permits, or when at the beach, I enjoy reading. I like to read books about the organization and relationship-building of teams. A few of my favorites include “Above the Line” by Urban Meyer and “The Power of Positive Leadership” by Jon Gordon.

Q: Do you have a favorite all-time sports movie?

A: Without hesitation, “Hoosiers.”

Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.


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