First year on job brings growth, surprises to Chartiers Valley athletic director

Sunday, October 18, 2020 | 11:01 AM

Oct. 14 marked Michael Gavlik’s one-year anniversary as athletic director at Chartiers Valley.

A lot happened during Gavlik’s first 12 months, but there was nothing he couldn’t handle.

Gavlik came to Chartiers Valley with an impressive resume, having been manager and director of Pittsburgh City League athletics for 16 years.

“Some things I am most proud of (are) starting a scholar athlete program, a middle school flag football league and bringing the City League basketball championships back to the Petersen Events Center,” Gavlik said.

The first four months of his tenure at Chartiers Valley were highlighted by another undefeated WPIAL championship run by the girls basketball team and successful playoff season for the boys basketball and soccer teams, the wrestling team and the cross country and track programs.

Then March arrived, and the world came to a sudden halt. A pandemic ended the winter sports season and canceled the spring sports season before it could begin.

“I thought my experiences in the City League had prepared me for just about everything, but a pandemic was not on the list,” Gavlik said. “It was and is the most difficult situation that I have been a part of in my career. Having to tell the girls basketball team that their season was over was heartbreaking.

“Our spring coaches and athletes were devastated. To this day, I feel terrible for the spring athletes. There are no redshirt years in high school athletics. They can never get the opportunity back. We did our best to recognize those athletes and hope that allowed some closure.”

While the battle against covid-19 continues, things have improved to the point that the PIAA made the decision in late August to allow high school sports to return.

This was music to the ears of Gavlik, coaches and Colts athletes in football, soccer, girls volleyball and tennis, golf and cross country.

However, the questions of athlete safety and whether fans should attend scholastic events continue to be major hurdles for Gavlik and his fellow ADs across the state.

“Challenging for sure,” Gavlik said. “The rules have changed so many times, it becomes hard to keep track. No athletic director in Pennsylvania wants to keep spectators out, but it was the hand that was dealt. Some spectators understand, and others don’t.

“ADs across the state have been incredible, juggling the daily rigors of an already difficult job, then add everything extra with covid. At the end of the day, the goal has always been to keep our coaches and players safe and to get them to play. That is always the top priority.”

This fall has been a special one for the Chartiers Valley football team. The Colts are enjoying one of their best seasons in years.

When the teams are having success, Gavlin said, it is heartening for everybody in the school district.

“Success is a positive for the athletes, student body and the community as a whole,” he said. “It is a culture. The coaches have done an outstanding job over the years of developing programs that the athletes believe in and want to be a part of. This is the first group of seniors for our football staff. You can see from their success that the kids have bought in.”

So what does Gavlik think of the wild and crazy first year of what he hopes is a long stay at Chartiers Valley?

“It was somewhat of a leap of faith for me to leave the city after 16 years when I knew the job inside and out,” he said. “I did my homework on Chartiers Valley, and I thought I could be a good fit and I could thrive. Luckily for me, the support of the administration and school board has been phenomenal. An AD is only as good as his staff, and my assistant AD, equipment manager, athletic trainers and secretary are outstanding.

“The coaches have welcomed me and have been willing to adapt to my style of doing things, and the community has embraced me. I’m sure I’m not on everyone’s Christmas card list, but that comes with the job.”

Gavlik is looking ahead to his second year with great excitement.

“I feel the future is bright at Chartiers Valley,” he said. “We have some facility upgrades to address and are working on a long-term facility plan. The focus for 2021 is the stadium track and will continue from there. From a student-athlete perspective, we are introducing a student athlete advisory council that I believe will allow our student athletes to develop as leaders.”


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