2008-01-04 / News

Athletic director job is more than just sports

By Stephanie H. Cotsonas

Keith Kenyon Keith Kenyon Anyone who knows Keith Kenyon is aware that he can remember any student-athlete that has walked through his office door over the past 23 years. He has a great memory and can place a name with a face and a sport in record time.

Kenyon has held the post of Director of Athletics/Student Activities at North Kingstown High School for over two decades after assuming the position at age 25. He runs the athletic department for grades 6 through 12, a job which includes hiring coaches and scheduling buses. In student activities department, he hires the advisors and oversees all operations associated with extracurricular activities including homecoming week, proms, and graduation. Surprisingly, Kenyon is also responsible for fire drills, building evacuations and the ordering of all furniture for teachers' classrooms at the high school. In the fall, Kenyon is also North's head football coach.

Kenyon describes his job by saying, "It is rewarding in that I work with highly motivated athletes, coaches and Booster Club volunteers." The Booster Club pays for all Varsity letter plaques, senior and coaches plaques, awards night and senior athlete dinners. According to Kenyon, the fundraising efforts of the Booster Club have taken North Kingstown's athletics to a new level.

A typical day for Kenyon starts in his office before 7 a.m. "Because of my open door policy, I have a lot of teachers, coaches and students popping in at all times. The majority of my day is on the computer and phone. I have lunch duty each day, which I really enjoy because I get to talk with students." Kenyon is out an average of three or four nights a week for meetings and to supervise games.

When asked about the quality of athletes at NK, Kenyon said "I think the talent has always been very good here." Kenyon noted two significant events that have affected the talent pool. "In the early 1990s Exeter pulled out of the high school to build their own, which affected us for a while specifically in the sports of baseball, softball and wrestling." The second event was the new North Kingstown High School which opened in 2001. The new school changed things in a positive way "because more people wanted to send their kids here." He went on to say, "The facility is nicer, plus, academically we have been rated a high performing school for the past four or five years, so we don't lose as many athletes to private school as we probably once did." A good number of North athletes have gone on to play at the college level.

North has always boasted strong athletics, and in 2007 the Skippers took state titles in ice hockey, field hockey, boys' soccer and boys' track. Coaching those teams and others are former Skippers themselves. "We are lucky because about half of our coaches are NKHS graduates, which makes me proud because they had such a good experience here that it makes them want to come back and coach," said Kenyon.

Kenyon does not plan on stepping down from his post any time soon. "The nice thing about my job is that it is different every day. The only negative thing is that with the changes in technology, I am on my computer all the time and I don't get out to see the kids enough." He does, however, insist that the coaches he hires are computer users, as everything from email to schedules and directions are found on-line.

Kenyon credits his biggest accomplishment as "the overall improvement of the program which includes the facilities, the high school and the stadium, and the quality of the sports awards nights and senior awards dinners."

It is obvious when talking to Kenyon that he gets the most satisfaction from working with his athletes and coaches both on the field and off. It would not be a surprise if Kenyon is at his post for another 23 years. It is likely that he will remember each and every athlete that ever walked through his door.

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