Jul 16, 2013 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterThinking about your last year at work, what letter grade would you give yourself?
Be honest. You don't have to tell anyone. Would you give yourself an A? Do you see opportunities for improvement? Maybe a B or C?
The Ranger asked that question to Riverton High School activities director Jeremy Hill having just completed his first year at the helm of RHS sports and activities.
"If I'm being honest with myself, I would give myself a B. I certainly would like an A. If I got a C I would hang my head a little bit," Hill said.
During our hour-long conversation, one thing became clear. Although Hill takes time to reflect on the past, he is looking forward.
A discussion about Hill's first year would be incomplete without his perspective on what happened with the RHS football program. By now you know the story. Three assistant coaches were asked not to return, four more resigned, the head coach resigned, a new head coach was hired, and now most of the former assistant coaches are back on staff.
To that mix add the mystery of the missing personnel files.
School District 25 patron Niki Tippets first asked the question whether rumors were true about missing files to Riverton superintendent Terry Snyder during the news conference when then-head coach Jeremy McCormick's resignation was announced. Snyder sidestepped the issue at the time, saying that it was a personnel matter.
Hill, to his credit, was more candid.
"We don't know (why those files weren't there). We have last year's evaluations for everything but football. There's some frustration with that. I don't know if that is lost in translation, if it's lost in transition. I think there is lots of frustration with that situation. It was difficult for me to evaluate, absolutely. But remember, too, ultimately I am evaluating head coaches, and head coaches are evaluating assistant coaches. I want my head coaches to feel empowered to do make decisions about their staff," Hill said.
Hill added that he has, "identified things that I could have done differently with helping coach McCormick through that process of evaluation, and those are things we will work on for next year."
Perhaps his biggest error, Hill reflects, is that he didn't anticipate the fallout that ultimately led to McCormick's resignation once three coaches were not rehired.
"I think one of the places that I went wrong is that I wasn't calculating it. I was supporting my guy. While I offered him advice, and my advice wasn't necessarily taken, at the end, I still felt that I needed to support him because that is the process that we have in place," Hill said.
Hill recognizes that the relationship between head coach McCormick and his assistant football coaches was "tenuous."
He added that he is confident that a new head coach has been hired who, "will foster those relationships, and we are letting him do that."
Hill pledged that he will install a process where head coaches will evaluate their assistant coaches, "in a fair and consistent and honest manner. Because when that happens, there is no question or confusion why or why not you are on someone's staff," Hill said.
But if McCormick had not resigned (after the assistant coaches were not rehired and others had resigned), would Hill have still recommended that McCormick be rehired as head coach?
"Sure I would, because Jeremy and I had already talked about areas of improvement as we moved forward," Hill said.
Despite the football turmoil, Hill does account for many successes in his first year, and he is ready to tackle his sophomore season.
In fact, he's asked all of his head coaches to develop a five-year plan that will detail three things for consideration in the future.
First, Hill wants to know how his coaches feel about how they are supported financially. Next, he's asked his coaches to detail a personnel plan for the next five years and examine whether programs are ready to grow. And, Hill wants a facilities study.
"We've asked our coaches to take the time really think through where we can be," Hill said.
Hill hopes to filter that information and will pull in students, parents and community members.
On to year two.
Have a great sports week. Go Big Red!
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