After the retirement of Jeff Whitney, who spent the past 13 years as activities director in his 26-year career at Camdenton, Bill Kurtz was called upon to take up those duties and the Laker alumnus is looking forward to the road ahead.
Bill Kurtz will have some new responsibilities this fall.
After the retirement of Jeff Whitney, who spent the past 13 years as activities director in his 26-year career at Camdenton, Kurtz was called upon to take up those duties and the Laker alumnus is looking forward to the road ahead. Kurtz recently took some time to discuss his new job and his vision for extracurricular activities under his tenure:
Q: Can you briefly explain your background and what led you to the position of activities director at Camdenton?
A: My athletic experience at Camdenton empowered me greatly as a student. I felt like I was in charge of how people viewed me. It gave me a sense of purpose and control that I had never felt before, and more importantly, it was fun. That was a great way to meet people, enjoy being around people and pit yourself against someone else. I would say those early experiences are the biggest reasons why I was led to education and my current role as athletic director at Camdenton. More recently, I've taught math at Hickman High School in Columbia, Camdenton High School, the Lake Career and Technical Center and spent five years as the assistant principal at Camdenton Middle School.
Q: Were there any specific reasons or was there anything that compelled you to take on this new role?
A: I am proud of the job I did as assistant principal at the middle school and feel that I did a lot of good for the students with which I came into contact. I hope I supported teachers and hope I made the job of principal easier for both principals under which I worked. Supporting students through developing and supporting our athletic programs is much more intuitive to the person I am. It will take some learning on my part to fully support band, speech and debate and the vocal music programs, but the purpose of these programs also fits perfectly with the way I'm wired and why athletics affected me so greatly as a student.
Q: In your own opinion, is there anything you believe is essential or vital to being a good activities director?
A: It is hard to say this as an athlete and I have found it difficult to say as a coach and even now as the athletic director, but it is essential that winning not be our supreme goal. It's so difficult because if we do meet our goals and we all strive toward the goals we set, then winning is a predictable outcome. As an athletic director, setting goals that include the number of wins for a program or which national contest the band should win works against why we have these programs in the first place. Students want to participate in extracurricular activities, and through that desire we teach them to analyze themselves, evaluate their current ability to get results, and then determine what course of action they should take to better reach their goals. This is the main process that students learn as participants in extracurricular activities that translate to the classroom and to life as an adult. When students are able to look back at their performance see small victories, celebrate what they have improved upon and be critical about where they still can improve, then we have a victory-minded program without falling into the LIE that a win on a scoreboard somehow satisfies all our desires.
Of course, all coaches, directors and athletes who purposefully or accidentally follow this process look for a win on the scoreboard. It is a great way for an active participant to get some type of approval from an outside source, but you'll see winning coaches watching film and scouting themselves to see where they can improve because it is that process that is the most rewarding- not a “10” from a judge or the ability to beat another team who may or may not have been ready to play you.
Q: Is there anything you have learned from former ADs Jeff Whitney, Bob Shore or your prior experiences with the Camdenton community in general that you feel are key to succeeding in this role?
A: I would state that anyone who played for Bob Shore learned a lot about pushing oneself, working with other people and more specifically about football. Putting in the time and paying attention to details can help prepare you, but getting an edge over an opponent has as much to do with their preparation or lack of preparation as it has to do with you.
I have learned that great preparation and great desire can still be whipped by a great physical specimen who didn't work very hard at all before lining up across from you. So, it is a wonderful situation for me that Jeff Whitney has been able to spend some time with me this summer before he retired. He has prevented this huge job from immediately drowning me. He has been and hopefully will be, a great help in things big and small. In my first month as high school athletic director, I have learned just how many more things there are to do then when I helped with athletics and activities at the middle school. I feel that I could spend all day four days a week pouring over budgets and still not have everything exactly where I think they should be. Mr. Whitney is gracious and always takes my call, although I fear I will put an end to that soon because I just keep calling.
I feel at home in this community because it is my home. Some of my teammates are still in this community and some feel they learned winning is the only judge of an athlete, coach, or program. I have friends in the community who feel athletics and activities are a waste of money and all that time and effort should be spent inside the classroom. Some in the community have no strong opinion at all and they're happy to let people play ball or sing in the choir, but eventually kids need to get through school and start the real world.
What's great though is when the girls’ basketball team wins a district championship and travels to a state sectional game, all of those in the community recognize the need those young people have and reach out to support them. The community is proud of the effort those girls put in regardless of what happens on the scoreboard. This community also knows how flawless our choir is. They seek the choir out to perform at their community functions. The Pride of the Lake marching band is touted on many car windows, but those car windows pale in comparison to the droves of community members who will brag about our band. I think activities and athletics in the high school are a great example of the difference between our community and what seems to be happening in our country today. We in the community recognize we have different opinions, but we allow athletics and activities to unite us and show that we are stronger together than when we focus on our differences.
Q: Do you have any specific goals or just an overall message for the students, coaches, directors, parents and community as a whole?
A: My mission as an athletic director is broad. I want to be a part of developing young people into people of character. I have many specific tasks that I believe will help toward that mission including involving parents on an advisory team, involving students in ways that show them career opportunities in the field of athletics and recreation and helping our growing community reconcile our recreational leagues and travel ball clubs into a system made for kids and not focused on the adults involved. Our school clubs and teams will be guided by this simple question: Does this decision use our program to build up an athlete or does it use athletes to build up a program?