The Trials Of Transition

January 08, 1995|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Sun Staff Writer

The gymnasium scoreboard arrived just as Wilde Lake athletic director Carol Satterwhite was ready to teach her fifth-period physical education class.

She stopped the class. The deliverymen needed an immediate answer. Where could they store it temporarily?

That emergency was one in a series she has faced during Wilde Lake's move to its temporary location at newly constructed River Hill this fall. The old Wilde Lake is being rebuilt and will reopen in 1996.

"I think they should have removed her from her teaching duties while this transition was taking place," said Howard athletic director Vince Parnell, who echoed sentiments expressed by other athletic directors.

Satterwhite has faced a lot of challenges since she became the first female public school athletic director in the state in 1978.

But nothing matches this year's transition.

"It's been quite an experience," she said. "I don't want to go through it again."

So that she could handle the scoreboard emergency, football coach Doug DuVal took over her class. For other emergencies, such as the day the washer/dryer arrived, or the day the outdoor stadium scoreboard arrived and she had to decide immediately where to install it, she also had to get an emergency stand-in teacher.

"I'm lucky I have great people to work with," she said.

She says the entire transition would have been easier if the new school's athletic fields had been built sooner, or if more equipment had been available.

But River Hill's fields won't be ready until next fall, and most of the school's athletic equipment was sitting in trailers until last Thursday when she and DuVal supervised the unloading.

"We originally were told all of the equipment and supplies would be off the trailer in August," she said. "The only sports we've been able to play [in class] were tennis and outdoor basketball. We borrowed tennis rackets from Mayfield Woods and basketballs from Wilde Lake Middle School. The kids got so tired of those two sports that some days for class we just took a walk down to Trotter Road and back."

Luckily, the fall weather was so good that most classes could be conducted outdoors.

"We finally got our weight room in early October, but it was awfully crowded," Satterwhite said. "On bad-weather days we had to show movies."

The wrestling mats and pingpong tables were unloaded in November.

The track equipment and a lot of weightlifting equipment is still sitting in a trailer waiting for the construction of an outdoor storage facility.

Some of the snafus that have developed could have been avoided, Satterwhite says, if the contractors had consulted with her on an regular basis rather than just at the beginning of the project.

Among the problems: The new track has a high jump area that slants upward; the jumping pits face one another so only one can be used at a time; there is no pole vault area; the shot put and discus area is on the other side of the school out of sight of supervision; and the baseball field is in a bad location because foul balls will land in someone's back yard or in a drainage ditch.

Satterwhite, who is the treasurer of the state athletic director's association, has refused to let the situation get the best of her. She's seen a lot of changes in her job since 1978.

"There's a lot more paperwork," she said. "And more coaches who don't teach in the school. And more violence. The job is so big and complicated now that I don't see how anyone can coach a sport like football and be an athletic director."

Satterwhite, a graduate of Towson State whose first job landed her at Wilde Lake in 1971, gave up coaching basketball in 1981 after nine seasons because of the demands of the athletic director's job.

Her basketball teams won five straight county titles from 1973 to 1977. She coached other sports along the way -- such as field hockey, track, softball and golf.

In December, she attended the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association's conference in New Orleans.

Some of the workshop topics indicate how much the job has changed. She attended workshops on violence in sports, crowd control, how to deal with parents and how to get more people to attend athletic events. "It was one of the better conventions I've ever attended," she said.

Her working day starts at 6:30 a.m. and often lasts until 7:30 p.m. For night games it's 10:30.

She estimates that she spends four or five hours per day on the athletic director's work.

"It was more than that when our teams had to practice at different sites this fall," she said.

But for all the headaches, she's enjoyed her career at Wilde Lake.

"I just hope when they do the gym at the new Wilde Lake, I get some input to help make the transition easier," she said.

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