Pendleton Heights High School, in Pendleton Indiana, had an outstanding 2019. They were one of VNN’s top schools and earned an “A” on their 2019 Report Card. Athletic Director Chad Smith sat down with us last spring to talk about his school, what led him to his current role as AD, and how they’re using VNN to improve their athletic department and community.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m in the middle of my 4th year as the athletic director at Pendleton Heights High School. I graduated from Pendleton Heights in 1999 and earned a degree from Indiana State University in 2003. I started my career in education immediately after graduation from ISU. I held multiple positions within our school corporation for 13 years before becoming the assistant AD in 2015. After serving in that position for one year, I was promoted to my current position. At home, I have a very understanding wife that tolerates the demands of my job. We also have two children ages 11 and 4.
What made you want to be an athletic director?
I have always been involved in athletics. Being a high school athlete has shaped the person I am today. I was a football coach for 13 years and knew the impact that I had made with our football players. This job was never the plan but when the opportunity came about, I felt like it was the right thing to do because I would have the opportunity to help more than football players become better people. Now I get to help over 300 athletes be better young men and young women.
What are some of the biggest challenges in your job?
There are so many challenges in this job. One of the biggest challenges is trying to mold all of our coaches, athletes, and parents into believing in a single vision and philosophy. We have a single philosophy in terms that it is important that we share athletes and it is always WE before ME at Pendleton Heights. We also have a singular vision in terms of strength and conditioning. We believe in training the whole athlete and not just specializing in a particular sport. We have also adopted the motto “We Are One” and it has really taken off. We Are One has made it a priority to support the members of our community just as they support us in competition.
How do you communicate effectively with your coaches and teams?
We use multiple ways to communicate such as email and social media. The most common is by using VNN. This gives us the ability to contact everyone all at the same time and virtually immediately. By using VNN we are able to update everyone on schedule changes, opponent changes, time changes, etc.
What do you find special about Pendleton Heights and your athletic department?
Pendleton Heights is a special place. This is where I first learned how to be a young man. My coaches and teachers did a great job of giving me the tools to be successful. We have a history of not having a lot of turnover in our teacher staff and coaching staff because this is a great place to work. It is special to me to think that I now get to impact a young adult in the same way that my teachers and coaches did when I was a student.
You guys have done a great job aligning with VNN’s mission, connecting communities through sport. Why do you think that is?
Being an athletic director has so many demands. I always laugh when someone asks, “What does an AD do all day?” VNN helps make the job of the athletic director easier by making things involving website and communication technology as easy as possible. Even someone with limited technology experience like myself is able to run an athletic website because of VNN’s ability to make the process simple.
We have had a few teams use RallyAroundUs for fundraising needs. They had a great amount of success with little to no work. They literally made a short video and supplied some contacts and let the system work. We are going to encourage more teams to start using RallyAroundUs.
Anything else that you want to share with us?
I have the best job in the world but it is very demanding. I appreciate anything such as VNN that helps me do my job better.
Special thanks to Chad Smith for taking the time to answer some questions. Look for more of these “How I Work” articles in the future.