New Greensburg Salem AD getting comfortable in homecoming
Sunday, January 10, 2021 | 4:37 PM
Frank Sundry had not walked the hallways at Greensburg Salem for more than 16 years when he returned to take over as the school’s athletic director in October.
The environment still felt familiar, the sites had not changed much and there was a sense of comfort returning to his alma mater.
“The transition has been a nice homecoming,” Sundry said. “At first, it was strange … but knowing the facilities and a lot of the people has allowed me to avoid typical barriers that someone faces when beginning a new job.”
Obviously, there have been better years to be an athletic director, especially one starting a new position in near crisis mode. The covid-19 pandemic has garbled schedules, shuffled seasons and changed the way athletic departments operate.
But Sundry, who turned 35 on Jan. 2, has had plenty of help.
Assistant athletic director Marzy Sherrow, who held down the fort commendably after Mike Burrell resigned to become the AD at Norwin, has lent her expertise and has helped to guide Sundry into place.
“(Sherrow) has been wonderful to work with,” Sundry said. “Her knowledge of procedures and the program has been tremendously helpful and insightful. Mr. (Dave) Zilli (the principal), as always, has been a great mentor and has helped me to reacclimate to the school, district and athletics program.”
Westmoreland County schools have seen several changes in athletic directors since the summer.
Brandon Rapp left Norwin for Hempfield, and Wesley Siko (Ligonier Valley), Scott Morrison (Yough) and Dan Boring (Southmoreland) took over as first-year ADs.
Sundry has faced challenges from the start.
Greensburg Salem nearly had one of the longest covid shutdowns in the WPIAL this winter when it announced a sports delay from mid-December until late January. But the district opted to bag that idea and move forward Jan. 4, like the rest of the league, after a three-week pause of high school sports by Gov. Tom Wolf.
“This is uncharted territory for all of us, but we are doing our best to keep our student-athletes, coaches, and community members safe,” he said.
As one might expect, Sundry has an athletics background. He earned seven varsity letters at Greensburg Salem in cross country (three), baseball (three) and track (one).
He had aspirations to become a sports writer when he left Penn State in 2008, and he earned English and masters degrees in curriculum and instruction from Saint Vincent in ’11.
But he took a wide turn after doing some freelance and part-time writing and decided to teach English instead. Along the way, he wore a number of hats. He taught at Mecklenburg County Schools and then worked as an assistant principal and principal, before moonlighting as an assistant athletic director, all at Lincoln Charter School in Denver, N.C.
“Those various positions have given me a broad viewpoint of how schools operate and how decisions are made that are in the best interest of our students, teachers, and community,” he said. “This insight allows me to see the big picture and to understand how sports can bolster academic achievements, build relationships, broaden perspectives and encourage community involvement.”
A four-year venture at Lincoln Charter ended when he chose to move back to the Greensburg area.
The decision to apply for the Greensburg Salem job was an easy one.
“Being back in the buildings and athletic facilities has brought back so many memories of my experiences at GS,” Sundry said. “My friends and I were all athletes, so these courts and fields are where we grew up and learned a lot of the lessons that we carry today as adults, fathers and professionals.”
An avid sports card and memorabilia collector, Sundry hopes his rookie year with the Golden Lions is worth something special to the district.
He knows just as basketball is “king,” as he said, in North Carolina, football rules in Western Pennsylvania. Still, he does not want to favor any one sport.
“Regardless of the hierarchy of sports, the goal is still the same: provide an opportunity for students to compete in an inclusive, fair and competitive environment,” he said. “Weather is a major difference, as well.”
Sundry’s long-term goals for programs are steeped in school pride. He wants to get more alumni involved and have student-athletes become more involved in the community.
“I want to celebrate our traditions and history,” he said. “I want Greensburg Salem to once again be generational, and to see more student-athletes suiting up in the same brown and gold as their parents did.”
He also wants to see a more prominent presence from the youth levels, which he hopes can help build varsity programs into winners.
Passion for the job is not something district officials and Golden Lions supporters need to worry about with Sundry.
“It’s been a lot of fun sharing this experience with my family, especially my two young sons who are excited for when they are able to play for Greensburg Salem.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
Tags: Greensburg Salem
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