When Bill Swink was hired as the athletic director at Spotsylvania High School in 2016, he asked all of his coaches about their aspirations.
Spotsylvania girls soccer coach Len Carlson informed Swink that he was interested in eventually becoming an AD.
Swink immediately took Carlson under his wing. He allowed Carlson to paint athletic fields and handle crowd control at football games during the fall. Carlson witnessed first-hand the daily duties that the position entails.
Carlson learned enough to impress Spotsylvania County Public Schools administrators in interviews for Chancellor High School’s vacant AD position.
Carlson has been hired to replace Rod Crooks, who was placed on administrative leave in the fall and fired this past spring after eight years. Carlson’s hiring was approved by the Spotsylvania County School Board at its meeting on Monday night.
“This past year I worked with Bill a lot,” Carlson said. “He allowed me to be the assistant AD and help him some with his day-to-day tasks. I really enjoyed a lot of the behind-the-scenes work that athletic directors do. I enjoy the connection with not just one sport that you’re coaching, but a connection with all the sports. I’m excited.”
Carlson, 45, is a 1990 graduate of Washington & Lee High School in Montross. He graduated from Virginia Tech in 1995 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts. He immediately went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Middle School Education from Virginia Commonwealth University.
After teaching in Westmoreland County for five years, Carlson went back to VCU for a Master’s in Administration and Supervision, while working as a teacher in Hanover County.
Carlson served as an assistant principal at Battlefield Middle School in Spotsylvania County for seven years before joining the Knights as a teacher and coach. He coached boys basketball for four years and girls soccer for the past eight. He taught Physical Education and Driver’s Education for the past four years.
“He’s a very organized individual,” Swink said. “He has good knowledge of sports from different avenues. He’s been a coach and an official. He’s very detail-oriented and that’s what you need … I think it’ll help him at Chancellor.”
Carlson will be the third full-time AD in Chancellor’s history, joining Crooks and Ben Herndon, who held the position from 1988–2009.
Chancellor went without an AD for several months after Crooks was placed on leave before it appointed Andrew Chrismer to the position on an interim basis.
Carlson said he plans to meet with Principal Jackie Bass–Fortune this week. He then wants to converse with all of Chancellor’s coaches to discuss their visions for their programs, what resources they need and what challenges they face.
Carlson said Chancellor has always been “super competitive” athletically and he wants to continue that tradition. He said he understands how difficult it must have been for Bass-Fortune and other administrators to “piecemeal” the AD job this school year.
“My main goal is to come in and stabilize the athletic department,” Carlson said. “I want to be someone who is consistent and visible. I’m going to be in there with them every day working my butt off.”
Carlson’s soccer teams reached the regional playoffs three times under his leadership. The Knights won the past two Conference 26 championships.
Swink said finding Carlson’s replacement is one of his top priorities.
“We have to start looking right away to get a good, quality individual to replace Len,” Swink said.
Carlson’s wife, Christy Carlson, is the head athletic trainer at Massaponax. The couple lives in Caroline County and have a 5-year-old daughter, Rilyn.