Kentwood Athletic Director Jo Anne Daughtry, is Athletic Director of the Year for the second time.
Each league chooses an Athletic Director of the Year, according to Daughtry. Then, she said that candidate goes to the West Central Board and they indicate who will be moved to the state award.
“It’s quite an honor, I think when your peers pick you for something like this it’s very humbling and there’s a lot of great athletic directors in our league, but I’m overwhelmed but very grateful,” she said.
The last time Daughtry won this award was in 2011, she said directors can only win it every five years.
Daughtry said she has been working in the Kent School District for 36 years, with 19 of those years being athletic director.
Starting in second grade Daughtry knew she wanted to be a teacher of some kind, she said.
This is what drove her to double major in business and PE, while also getting a minor in coaching.
She is from Oak Harbor, but moved to Kent shortly after receiving a job for a business position in the Kent School District after teaching in Memphis, Tennessee for one year.
She said she taught PE in Memphis because there were no job openings in the area for PE teacher, which is what she originally wanted to do.
Then she heard about an athletic position opening up at Kentwood, but wasn’t too sure of it at first.
“I always looked at this job and wanted to do this, but didn’t know if I could,” Daughtry said. “(But) because I love helping people I saw this need to take some things off coaches plates so they didn’t have to worry about all this paperwork and busy work stuff.”
Now, she said she could not see herself doing anything else and wouldn’t change anything.
She not only loves to help the coaches, but helping the kids when they need her is something Daughtry does not take lightly. She wants to make sure they all succeed.
“I just love helping the kids, I help in a different way because I’m not actually out there coaching them, but I’m working with kids that have grade issues, with scholarships and different things to help them be successful as an athlete here, so I just like to help people,” Daughtry said.
Helping kids isn’t always about the good things though.
To Daughtry, this is one of the hardest parts of her job.
“I think the hardest part is when kids don’t understand why they’ve been cut or if I have to tell them because of grades they can’t play, that’s hard because I know it means a lot to them, but by the same token, especially with the grade side, I work with them, the kids that do grade checks every week, I work with them and try to get them with a tutor or help them get their grades up so that they can participate,” she said.
Another stressful part about what Daughtry does is being the activities coordinator on top of being athletic director. She said the combination of the two is what makes it the hardest because there is not enough time in the day.
She said her job entails a lot more than just emails. She has the responsibility of making sure coaches are doing what they need to do, getting officials for games, getting transportation for games, making sure all the players are eligible to play and so much more.
After working as athletic director for 19 years, Daughtry said not too much has changed over the years, as far as the people go.
“The kids are still the kids, the coaches are still the coaches and I’m very fortunate to have an amazing coaching staff,” she said.
She said she works with coaches that went to Kentwood when they were in high school and feels very fortunate to have those people in her life.
“A lot has changed (environmentally), but I don’t know that it’s changed what I do,” Daughtry said.
Daughtry is only the third athletic director ever at Kentwood, and also the one who has worked there the longest.
She said she does not plan on going anywhere anytime soon. She said she will stay for maybe another 5-10 years, but then she will retire.
“I enjoy what I do everyday, so I think I’m fortunate in that way. There’s people who end up doing something for years and years that they hate,” Daughtry said. “I’ve either been a student or a teacher or athletic director for so long that I can’t imagine anything else.”