“Our district has adopted the collaboration nature and I think this is the next step in the athletic collaboration process. The kids will know what is expected of them and what kind of standard they must meet and I think we will lose less kids from middle school to high school.”
— Jeff Simon, Moffat County School District athletic director, about making the transition from middle school athletics to high school athletics as easy as possible for athletes
Since Jeff Simon took over as athletic director at Moffat County High School in June, he has wanted a more united athletics program in Craig.
In early March, Jill Hafey, the athletic director/assistant principal at Craig Middle School, took on a larger role with curricular development for the Moffat County School District.
District officials then went to Simon about overseeing both MCHS and CMS as a district athletic director.
Simon said he didn’t have to think twice.
“It is an awesome job having the opportunity to work with athletics,” he said Monday. “The school district wanted to take a load off of Jill and her work, and the fact that I will be able to work with both schools is that much better.”
Simon will continue to fulfill his duties as assistant principal at MCHS along with his expanded athletic director role.
Each week, Simon said, he will be at CMS at least three different days and whenever needed.
Four years ago, Simon stepped down as MCHS athletic director because it wasn’t a full-time position, he said.
And while the new position didn’t come with a pay increase, Simon, a 1992 MCHS graduate, said he’s happy to have a bigger role with Craig athletics.
“In the past, as athletic director and a teacher, I felt I didn’t have the time to do the athletic director job right,” he said. “I went through CMS and MCHS athletics when I was in school, so Craig athletics are a big part of who I am.
“Now the job has changed and evolved in the right direction and I am happy to be part of it.”
The biggest advantage of having one athletic director is the ability to have corresponding programs at the schools working on the same philosophy, he said.
“We want coaches seventh- through 12th-grade to meet and work together because that is a distinct advantage for the programs and the kids,” Simon said. “The ability for the kids to work with one program, they will learn more and they can make a seamless transition from middle school to high school.”
In years past, high school coaches have visited CMS teams to teach them.
But Simon said conversation is one thing and collaboration is another.
“Our district has adopted the collaboration nature and I think this is the next step in the athletic collaboration process,” he said. “The kids will know what is expected of them and what kind of standard they must meet, and I think we will lose less kids from middle school to high school.”
Darrell Camilletti, a Moffat County Booster Club Board member, said he thinks having one athletic director overseeing both is a positive.
“There needs to be coordination from middle school through high school with the programs and high school coaches need to work with middle school coaches,” he said. “Having one athletic director, I think, is going to help the programs facilitate the communication and help the teams succeed.”
Besides the positives with the programs, Camilletti said having Simon in control of both schools makes sense financially.
“We are in economic times that require the school (district) to look at the situations to save money, and I think they capitalized on having one athletic director,” he said. “It will take time, but I can’t fathom it isn’t manageable for Jeff to be in control of both departments.”
Simon said he met with Hafey to make the transition as seamless as possible.
After meeting with CMS coaches, he said he heard mixed opinions, with some fearing he would put MCHS athletics before CMS athletics.
“I can see how some coaches may think I will put middle school sports on the back burner, but that isn’t the case,” he said. “I am going to work just as hard for them as I have for MCHS and I know I will have to prove myself to the coaches.”
Todd Hildebrandt, a football and basketball coach at CMS, said he thinks the district made the right decision putting Simon in charge of both schools’ athletic departments.
“Administrators have a lot of things on their plates and sometimes extracurricular activities aren’t the biggest priority,” he said. “Jeff has a good background in athletics and I think he will have open communication with us CMS coaches.”
Simon said one of the first things he wants to do with CMS sports is have the programs comply with Colorado High School Activities Association policy so the teams follow the same rules and guidelines as the high school teams.
Next, he said, is updating equipment.
“Jill started to get new equipment in and I want to do that for all the teams across the board,” he said. “We have brought in new helmets for safety purposes and I want to keep updating equipment. If a team has a need, I want to try and help get it for them. I want to be as supportive as I can.”
Simon said he recognizes the time commitment will be greater with him overseeing all the sports at both schools, but he feels the decision will be beneficial in the long run.
“Like anything, there are going to be growing pains,” he said. “I think there is enough support built into our programs that we will make this change work with help.
“I want to work as hard as I can for the coaches, the kids and the community.”
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