Sports

New athletic director envisions more Falcons

Kelly Kirk settles into his office at South Whidbey High School as the new athletic director. His main goal this year is to increase activities participation by students.   - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Kelly Kirk settles into his office at South Whidbey High School as the new athletic director. His main goal this year is to increase activities participation by students.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

Kelly Kirk’s office at South Whidbey High School is littered with forms.

Physical evaluations. Parent waivers. Concussion information acknowledgement documents. All are part of his job as the new Falcon athletic director in charge of the 17 sports teams at the high school of about 500 students.

The seven-year athletic director at Decatur High School in the Federal Way School District found the right combination of positions at South Whidbey High School. Replacing Scott Mauk, who took the principal’s position at Edmonds Heights K-12, Kirk will lead the sports programs and be the school’s assistant principal.

“I was a little pickier about which jobs I was looking for,” said Kirk, 47.

During the week Falcon football paperwork was due, he was busy in his office coordinating schedules, officials and transportation. Coming from a school of about 1,300 students, Kirk said he struggled to garner a high percentage of participation in after-school activities like sports, band or Hi-Q. The former varsity volleyball coach relayed his previous school’s difficulty to get enough girls to field varsity and junior varsity volleyball teams.

“We used to struggle to get 30 girls out for volleyball,” Kirk said. “Here there are 40 girls. That’s amazing.”

Keeping students engaged in sports and other extracurricular activities is one of his major goals. His plan to have “every student in some activity” was to speak with students in the halls, at lunch and after school and encourage them to join. When that failed, he had no problem speaking with parents.

“We’re here to try and get better and win,” Kirk said. 

One of the great lessons he learned when he first started as an athletic director seven years ago was discovering students’ passions outside the classroom.

“You get to see kids in situations where they excel and find success,” said Kirk, a former English and social studies teacher. “It’s neat to see kids where they’re really passionate about something.”

As the school’s athletic director, Kirk will attend many of the Falcon sporting events. Part of his job is to maintain crowd control, with students and adults. In his previous experience, Kirk managed a school that had a large sports department covering everything from football to swim and dive.

“Swim crowds don’t get out of control,” Kirk laughed.

A couple unpopular decisions were made before Kirk arrived. Last year, school officials increased its athletic participation costs and the Cascade Conference elected to increase attendance fees earlier this year.

Replacing the grass and track at Waterman’s Field is at the top of Kirk’s to-do list this year, too. Kirk said he knows taking out the grass field and putting in a synthetic one won’t happen any time soon. But he has plans to advocate funding a new field to accompany the grandstand he called impressive.

“I would like to see that whole thing redone,” Kirk said. “New field, new track, new scoreboard, new goal posts.”

The sports schedule was already penned onto a laminated calendar on his office wall, with events from the Sept. 6 football game against Chelan to late October.

“When you see me at a game, introduce yourself,” said Kirk to potential spectators and parents.

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