Big job ahead for AD at new Mountain House High
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Oct 18, 2013 | 2780 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The stadium, gymnasium and baseball and softball backstops are all going up at Mountain House High School — but the next step is to hire an athletic director who can organize all of the school’s teams that play there.

The Lammersville Unified School District Governing Board approved the job description of an athletic director’s duties at the board’s Sept. 18 meeting.

Ben Fobert, principal of Mountain House High School, said that while the district has yet to advertise the job and interview applicants, the district expects to have a candidate within 30 days.

Immediately after finding an athletic director, Fobert will work with that person to hire coaches for each of the Mountain House Mustang teams.

Fobert said that the person will most likely be a teacher at Mountain House High, and the job allows one class period each day for athletic director duties.

All of the athletic venues on campus will be ready for use when the school opens in August 2014, according to Fobert. The stadium and gymnasiums are under construction now, and the baseball and softball field backstops are up and the fields will be seeded next week.

Fobert said one period a day for sports-related duties should be sufficient to plan for the first group of 400 to 450 freshmen and sophomores. Mountain House High will have no varsity teams its first year.

"We’ll have to re-evaluate as the school grows and we have more responsibilities in that position," he said.

Others who have been down the same path expect that person will have his or her hands full.

Steve Thornton, who came out of retirement in 2010 to fill the Kimball athletic director’s job, moved from Tracy High to West High in 1993 to become West’s first athletic director.

Thornton said he actually started the job a year before West opened.

"It takes a good six months or longer to get things set up," Thornton said, adding that while developing the Wolf Pack athletics program was a lot of work, it was also rewarding.

"You get to do stuff the way you want to do it and establish traditions and policies," he said. "It’s difficult and it’s challenging. I enjoyed it at the time."

Thornton is retired from teaching, but noted that Tracy High athletic director Gary Henderson and West athletic director Derek Sprecksel teach four class periods per day with one class period for being athletic director and another class period for planning.

"It used to be (athletic directors) only taught three classes and you were off for three periods," Thornton said.

Joe Lawrence was Kimball High’s first athletic director when the school opened in 2009. He held the job for a year before stepping down to focus on teaching physical education and coaching boys varsity basketball.

"There’s quite a bit to do to start an athletic program at a school," Lawrence said. "You’re trying to set a philosophy for the athletics program, trying to get everyone on the same page regarding what you’re trying to accomplish. To really do the job correctly for the first couple of years it’s really full time."

Fobert added that planning for the 2014-15 athletics season is underway. The Mountain House Mustangs will play in the in the Sac-Joaquin Section’s Trans Valley League, a Division V league in the seven-division section.

League opponents will include Escalon, Hilmar, Hughson, Modesto Christian, Ripon and Riverbank.

Fobert said the tentative schedules for the 2014 fall season are drawn up and work has started on the winter 2014-15 schedules.

• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or

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