Susquehannock hires athletic director
When Brad Keeney was in middle school Chuck Abbott was his science teacher in the classroom and his baseball coach on the diamond. Now years later, Abbott is serving as a mentor to Keeney again, this time helping Keeney adjust to his new role as Susquehannock High School’s athletic director.
Keeney, a Susky alumni, took over the position from Abbott on July 1 after being approved by the Southern York school board in May.
The Susquehannock AD position opened at the end of April/early May, according to Keeney, after Abbott retired after 15-plus years in the position. Abbott joined the Southern York County School District in 1981 as an eighth-grade science teacher and would later coach baseball and football before moving to the athletic director position.
Abbott was named as YAIAA executive director last June after George Shue resigned from the role. Abbott will continue to serve as YAIAA executive director moving forward.
“The circles you follow in life are fun and they’re always interesting,” Keeney said. “As a teacher and a coach Chuck had the same impact as he’s had on me as a mentor… When you come back and you have the opportunity to have that person that you already look up to guide you in your professional life, you don’t lose that image and that perspective.”
The news of Abbott’s retirement this year came as a small surprise to Keeney, who had served as the assistant athletic director last year. He had known that retirement could be coming for Abbott, but didn’t anticipate him doing it this year.
“Chuck’s just kind of legend around here. I thought you’d have to drag him off the field,” Keeney said with a chuckle.
Keeney went through a three-step interview process before he was hired. First, he went through an interview with the administration and then he met with a committee of coaches, parents, students, and administrators, Keeney said.
The final interview was with just the administration, Keeney said.
With his new role as athletic director, Keeney did have to abdicate his other two positions at the school. Keeney had been a teacher as well as the head coach for the wrestling program, but he felt it would be better to focus solely the new position.
“When you look at the responsibility that comes along with an AD job, being new, it would be a better move to step down,” he said. “I’m going to really miss coaching. That was one of the more enjoyable things in my life, but I feel like this is a way to impact a bigger umbrella of kids.”
Two weeks into the job Keeney is still adjusting to the new role. He has been spending time getting to know other athletic directors in the area, learning the budget, making sure the fall schedules are in order with fall sports starting up soon, and picking up the little things that come along with the job.
Keeney has also been looking at making some of the administrative tasks that coaches have more efficient so that they have more time to focus on coaching. He has also been trying to find ways to help bring the entire student population together so that “they become active participants in what they do.”
During his time at Susquehannock Abbott felt the job was about more than just winning and losing, according to Keeney. Those are the types of lessons that have remained with Keeney.
“Chuck was very strong into sportsmanship and character development,” Keeney said. “I mean, he really kind of puts into perspective what the profession is about. It’s not always about winning and losing, it’s about doing the best for kids.
“Those are the kinds of lessons that I took from him.”