The duties of a high school activities director are seemingly endless.

Many arrive at school early in the morning and, on game nights, don’t leave the building until 10 p.m. or later.

Chancellor High School has been forced to conduct business without an AD for the past three months after Rod Crooks was placed on administrative leave in October.

Spotsylvania County School Board member Amanda Blalock said on Monday that Crooks’ situation is “an unresolved personnel matter” and declined to discuss it further.

The administrative and athletic staff at Chancellor has come together to make up for Crooks’ absence. They’ve divided his large number of responsibilities in an effort to ensure the athletic and activities programs run smoothly this winter.

“I’ll just say we’re doing well,” Chancellor Principal Jackie Bass-Fortune said. “We’re holding it together.”

The Chargers have the task of hiring a football coach without an AD in place. The job opening to replace the retired Bob Oliver closed in December. Interviews are set to begin Tuesday.

During the fall, the county and school administrators pitched in to keep the athletic department flowing.

The Spotsylvania County Public Schools’ maintenance department handled care of the fields.

Bass-Fortune has been present for nearly every athletic event at the school for the past three months to ensure proper coverage. She’s also handled transportation arrangements and communication with other ADs.

“Mrs. Bass-Fortune is always here,” said Brian Gebhardt, a Chancellor assistant principal. “I feel like she lives here. She always take the heavy part of the load.”

Physical education teacher Andrew Chrismer has also been an integral part of the operation. He’s been on hand for athletic events and handled the payment of game officials, as well as many other duties.

Chancellor boys basketball coach Rob Reich said Chrismer and Gebhardt have proved invaluable the past three months.

Reich said the job of an AD often goes unappreciated, but the Chargers’ ordeal has provided insight into how important they are.

In addition to the management of facilities and scheduling of games, they have to be up to date on Virginia High School League rules and eligibility requirements. Bass-Fortune has taken on many of those responsibilities while also working her primary job as principal.

“They do a lot of stuff the public never sees,” Reich said. “Jackie has worn many hats throughout this process and she’s done a great job of communicating with us. Andrew and [assistant principal] Kim Lauderdale have stepped up. The entire athletic department has come together.”

Reich and girls basketball coach William Griffin have communicated with each other regarding times to use the gym for practice.

Reich said despite the absence of an AD the operation has been “flawless.” He said there’s been no trickle-down effect from the uncertainty at the top to the performance on the court.

Reich attributed that to the willingness of the coaches and administrators to work together. They’ve done so without knowing if Crooks will return or if a new AD will be in place before the end of the school year. Spring is one of the busiest times of the year for high school athletics, with seven sports.

“I feel like everybody that’s here at the school does a good job of being flexible and working with the situation and circumstances,” Gebhardt said. “We’re making a positive out of everything we can.”

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Taft Coghill Jr: 540/374-5526

tcoghill@freelancestar.com

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