The school’s nationwide search for a new athletics director concluded last month when incoming Head of School Jennifer Price announced to faculty and staff across all three campuses that Interim Athletics Director (AD) Chuck Richard would remain permanently in the role.
“We engaged in a thorough process that included students, parents, coaches, teachers, and administrators in two rounds of interviews,” Dr. Price said. “In the end, it was felt by many, including myself, that Mr. Richard was the right person for the job given the work that he has done as the interim athletic director, his strong commitment to BB&N, and his desire to learn and grow in the job.”
Mr. Richard officially became the AD on March 24, having been named Interim AD in February 2017 when Athletics Associate Carolyn Polley, who had held the AD position for the earlier part of the school year, stepped down from the role.
Mr. Richard has over 12 years of experience at the school, having worked as an associate athletic director and athletic trainer, helped with admissions and Bivouac, and sat on the Disciplinary Committee. Before BB&N, he was an athletic trainer at Boston College, then Belmont Hill, and later Harvard University.
“I learned a lot from every school I’ve worked at, including what it means to be an athlete in a great academic institution,” Mr. Richard said. “I think I bring a lot of those experiences [from other schools] here because I can help our student body develop as both students and athletes.”
“One of the reasons BB&N is a great match for me personally is its incredibly dynamic student body,” he added. “We have students that are great athletes and students who like sports but also have other passions like arts and theatre.”
To begin the search last fall, Dr. Price and school Transition Team Head Charlie Ruopp assembled a five-person, internal committee to work with Carney Sandoe & Associates, a consulting firm that recruits faculty members from across the globe. The committee included Girls’ Varsity Crew Assistant Coach Wendy Svatek, Dean of Students Rory Morton ’8, MS Director Mary Dolbear, and Upper School Director Geoff Theobald. After reviewing candidate applications in November, the group began interviewing in January.
“We were looking for someone who was an educator, understands the role of athletics in a school like BB&N, and is fully supportive of the student-athlete experience,” Mr. Theobald said. “Mr. Richard clearly stood out as the best candidate for all of those reasons and because he knows BB&N thoroughly and loves the school.”
After the first round of interviews, the committee narrowed the pool to three candidates, each of whom spent a day in mid-February interviewing with a variety of community members. Among the interviewers were groups of teachers, students, parents, coaches, and athletic staff.
Tri-varsity athlete Molly Griffin ’20, who interviewed Mr. Richard along with seven other students, said she appreciates his commitment to generating community interest in both boys’ and girls’ teams.
“He comes to a lot of our games and gets a lot of other people to come so [that] the fan section seats are always full,” she said. “Especially this past winter with hockey, he tried really hard to promote gender equality with all the games so that the girls’ teams had as many people in the audience as the boys’ teams.”
Girls’ Varsity Softball Captain Halley Douglas ’19, who also sat on the interview panel, said Mr. Richard’s dedication to hearing student opinions made him the best candidate.
“Mr. Richard talked about how he wanted to make a student advisory committee and get students more involved in the administrative part of the athletic department,” she said. “That stood out to me because I think student feedback is really important, and it was clear that he understood what BB&N needs.”
MS Athletic Director and Associate Athletic Director David Bunton praised Mr. Richard’s confidence, communication skills, and desire to improve the school, saying his direction has helped restore balance in the athletic department after over three years of fluctuating leadership since Rick Foresteire left the AD role in 2015.
“Mr. Richard’s familiarity with BB&N—along with the relationships he has developed—has given the athletics department stability,” he said.
Mr. Richard said he has a lot of goals and is looking forward to beginning some of the long-term projects suggested in the athletic department’s January 2015 review.
“I think every new director has a different vision for the department,” he said. “As the Interim AD, it was hard to make any of these plans because I didn’t know if I was going to be here permanently.”
Part of Mr. Richard’s vision for the near future is to take a closer look at the school’s athletic facilities, on and off campus.
“If it were to rain, we would have to cancel most of our practices because the fields would be unplayable,” he said. “We’ve talked about having a turf facility here for a long time, and I want to pursue that because it would directly benefit students in the Upper School and Middle School.”
Mr. Richard said he also wants to reexamine the school’s variety of practice spaces off campus, including the current squash facility at Boston University and the rock climbing gym in Watertown.
“I want to see if there might be any better options for us with external facilities. We don’t want to extend our students’ school days any more than we have to because of practice spaces that are too far away,” he said.
Associate Athletic Director Greg Pugh said that Mr. Richard’s leadership has already helped create some momentum around departmental changes.
“We’ve talked about turfing the field for years, and it’s finally gained some traction in the last few months,” he said, adding, “[Mr. Richard] can handle all these projects without question.”
Mr. Richard also helped implement smaller improvements suggested by the 2015 departmental review, including the installation of new equipment in the fitness room and new lighting and flooring in the athletics building, Mr. Pugh said.
Mr. Richard said he is looking forward to discussing bigger changes to the department this fall with Dr. Price and Tara Gohlmann, the school’s incoming CFO.
“We have a lot to think about, and we can really start working when we get all the key players to the table,” he said. “I think we will make a lot of positive changes in the near future that will benefit students across all campuses.”