THSADA Showcase: Andy Chester
Growing up the son of a Methodist preacher, we moved around a lot. This made the sometimes nomadic lifestyle of a high school coach a natural fit for me. I played basketball at Jacksboro High School but was not a college-caliber player when I graduated in 1983. I was a journalism major at Texas Wesleyan and stayed connected to athletics as the campus newspaper sports editor. After two years I decided to switch to education. With all the journalism hours I had taken, English was a great fit for my teaching field.
I student taught at Arlington High School and landed my first coaching job in 1988 at Jacksonville High School (one year) as a freshman football-basketball-track coach and English teacher. My next stop was again as a three-sport freshman coach at Boswell High School (three years) in Saginaw. My first head coaching position was as the boys and girls basketball coach at Priddy High School (three years). My next move was as an assistant basketball-football coach at Amarillo High (four years) and then again as assistant basketball coach at Flower Mound Marcus (two years). Deciding I wanted to be a head coach again, I took the head boys basketball job at Palmer High School (five years).
The opportunity to start an athletic program from scratch presented itself in 2006 and I became the campus coordinator at Life School Red Oak. After two years, I moved into the role of district Director of Athletics and now over see two secondary campuses which compete in UIL Conference 4A (Life Waxahachie) and 3A (Life Oak Cliff).
1. My day-to-day tasks and responsibilities include overseeing 70 coaches and 1,400 student-athletes competing in 17 interscholastic sports. I also serve as the District Executive Committee Chair for our 3A campus, Life Oak Cliff. I am extremely blessed to work with Life School’s executive leadership team, which shares a passion and desire to see our students compete and succeed in athletics and in life. Like many other ADs, we are responsible for managing our budget, working with vendors, venue rentals and transportation. Working alongside our campus coordinators, our athletic leadership team’s biggest responsibility is making sure our student-athletes are ready for life after Life School. We do this by growing our coaches professionally and helping them pour character and integrity into our kids on a daily basis.
2. The biggest advice I would give people who are aspiring to be an Athletic Director is to constantly look for opportunities to get experience at their campus. Even while still teaching and coaching, volunteer for responsibilities as an event manager or game administrator. Ask to attend budget planning sessions if available and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask for opportunities to lead coaches meetings. Seek out mentors in the profession. Join the THSADA. Attend the games of other sports and get to know all the coaches you work with. And most of all, begin to develop a big-picture mentality of your school’s athletic program.
3. What I enjoy most about my job are watching our students compete and succeed and seeing our coaches grow professionally. While we may not always win the contest, seeing our students and coaches compete with sportsmanship and integrity is the best part of what I get to do. Watching our students go on to success in college and the workforce as well as mentoring coaches and helping them achieve their personal and professional goals is thrill not found in any other profession.
4. All my positions in the past helped prepare me to be an athletic director. As an assistant coach, I took best practices from the head coaches I worked under in dealing with students, parents and other staff members. When I became a head coach, I sought out advice from the best coaches I could find. I spent two years as a dean of students (while still coaching) and gained insight into the responsibilities of a campus principal. Serving as a campus coordinator paved the way for me to become our district AD. The past several years as a member of THSADA has been the best tool for helping me become a better athletic director. I am so appreciative of how accessible and willing to help other athletic directors are.