Drew Karpen dives into job as Highlands athletic director
Monday, August 26, 2019 | 5:16 PM
Over the past few years, Drew Karpen has been waiting for the right opportunity to run an athletic department.
On Monday, he was approved by Highlands School Board as the district’s athletic director.
“It’s been a long road, but it’s definitely something that I am loving right now,” Karpen said. “This is the place that I want to be, and I am looking forward to improving the athletic department here at Highlands.”
Running an athletic department wasn’t always the goal for the South Hills native. He earned his undergraduate degree from Clarion, and after dabbling in sports reporting for a few years, he decided to go to graduate school. He earned his master’s degree in athletic administration from Cal (Pa.).
After graduation, Karpen got a job in the athletic department at North Allegheny under athletic director Bob Bozzuto. At the time of his hiring, Karpen wasn’t sure if he wanted to work at the high school or collegiate level, but it didn’t take long for him to reach a decision.
“I was really just doing press releases and stuff like that because that was my background, and as I started getting more comfortable, my role continued to grow,” Karpen said. “I can’t thank (Bozzuto) enough for helping me get my career started, saw what I was capable of and started giving me more responsibility.
“As I started interacting with the coaches, student-athletes and the boosters, that was when I realized it was something that I really wanted to do.”
After two years at North Allegheny, Karpen was named interim AD at Ambridge this past spring. The Peters Township alum was at Ambridge for his first WPIAL title as an athletic director when the boys volleyball team won the Class AA championship.
The opportunity at Ambridge not only gave Karpen experience, it gave him confidence as well.
“It showed me that I was capable of running a program,” he said. “I always thought I could at North Allegheny, but I never knew that I could until I was actually in charge. Once I was at Ambridge and I was making my own decisions, developing my own routine and everything was flowing, that was what showed me that I was able to do a job like this at a high level.”
Now, Karpen is looking to take everything he has learned and apply it to Highlands. Although he was approved Monday, Karpen has been working at Highlands since June, and he already has plans.
“We’re looking at implementing a scholar-athlete program,” he said. “They didn’t have anything like that in the past. So, basically, just tying in a lot of athletics and academics and showing them (student-athletes) the importance of that. We want to make sure they have everything that they need to have success on and off the court.”
Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .