Sitting down with Pine-Richland director of athletics Sean Simmons
Saturday, March 2, 2019 | 10:06 AM
Sean Simmons began his tenure as director of athletics at Pine-Richland on Nov. 14. Prior to his hiring at Pine-Richland, Simmons served as the assistant athletic director of student services and sports operations at Robert Morris, a position he held since 2004.
From 2000-04, Simmons filled the role of academic coordinator for student-athletes at the University of Virginia. Before his stint at UVA, he worked as an assistant compliance director at Seton Hall.
He recently answered some questions regarding his time with the Rams athletics department.
You’ve been at Pine-Richland for a few months now. How are things going with the new job, settling into the location and the school district?
One of my philosophies is to take it one day at a time. The Pine-Richland community has been great. Everyone here has been very supportive. I think it really helps the transition when you have a good, supportive team surrounding you. Everybody I’ve worked with — the administration, the superintendent, the assistant superintendent, Principal (Nancy) Bowman and my two secretaries have been tremendous, and they’ve contributed greatly to a smooth transition so far.
I know that you’ve put in a lot of work at the collegiate level in different departments, with a focus on athletics. What attracted you to working at the high school level in an athletic department, specifically here at Pine-Richland?
The reputation of Pine-Richland. There are only a few high school AD jobs that would entice me to leave collegiate athletic administration. Based on my research, I was led to believe — and I was proven to be right — that the values and the missions of Pine-Richland School District align with my professional and personal values. It was a perfect fit. The things that they’re trying to do here for their student-athletes, and their students in general, align tightly with my personal vision and my professional vision. So it was very enticing to come to this job.
What types of goals or ideas do you have in the short-term to improve or maintain Pine-Richland athletics?
Short-term, what I want to accomplish, personally and professionally, is to create an environment where everyone involved, and I mean everyone — that’s the student-athlete, the community, the boosters and the parents — where we continue to learn and develop. Sometimes, we lose our focus in youth sports. But I want to make sure, with everything we do here, we create an environment where student-athletes can compete and learn and develop and experience some type of personal growth. That’s my short-term goal.
What about long-term goals or ideas?
Long-term, I would like to make sure that the Pine-Richland athletic department would serve as the porch, or the window, for an amazing school district. One of the things that attracted me to Pine-Richland is that, academically, it’s a school district that is increasingly climbing up the rankings. … I want to generate some prideful excitement in the community and give our community members another reason to be proud of Pine-Richland.
One timely question I had for you is how a lot of dual-sport athletes may feel pressured to specialize in one sport nowadays as opposed to participating on two teams. How do you feel about that issue?
Boy, that’s a professional and personal challenge, right? So it seems like there’s a lot of pressure on kids in youth sports today to specialize. With higher education just becoming more and more expensive, most kids are enticed to specialize with the goal of seeing how far they can advance in their sport — whether it be the collegiate level, and at that level, playing D-I, D-II, D-III — some people aspire to be professional athletes. I am old school. I grew up playing three sports. I believe there’s some health benefits, mental benefits to playing three sports. I would encourage everyone to try to play three, but I know sometimes that’s a personal issue where a student-athlete and his family have made that decision, and I have to respect both. But I would recommend student-athletes play as many sports as they can.
In your mind, what defines a successful high school athletic program?
If we can create an atmosphere where everyone involved in the program can exhibit some type of personal growth, learning or developing a love for the sport, I think that’s when we’re doing the right thing. You have to be growing personally and learning every day. Once we continue doing that, then our athletic department is successful.
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