Ahead of an unconventional season and school year, the Big Foot Chiefs are taking an unconventional approach to hiring a new athletic director.
They hired two to replace the retired Tim Collins, who served in the role for 20 years.
The Chiefs tabbed head football coach Mike Welden and Bailey Racky co-athletic directors to interim positions that will take them both through what promises to be a turbulent 2020-21 school year.
Welden is preparing for his second season as Big Foot’s football coach, and he saw an opportunity to contribute more to the department.
“When the position first came open, I didn’t really consider it because I know how much of a commitment it is on top of the football job,” Welden said. “I’ve got two young kids at home, and to be away just about every night would’ve been too much. But when they thought about splitting up the duties, that’s when I thought it was a great opportunity to see what it’s all about.”
Welden said despite the uncertainty surrounding the position, he is looking forward to the challenge.
“We are going to see how this year goes with it all,” Welden said. “Obviously budget reasons probably had something to do with this decision, but that’s way above my pay grade. We really aren’t even sure if fall or winter sports are going to happen, but if they do and we have a somewhat normal year, maybe we’ll find out this is the better way to do it.
“The AD position sees a lot of burnout, so maybe splitting the duties will work better for everyone.”
Welden and Racky split up equally the sports they are responsible for without regard to gender, with each taking a few of the “high profile” sports to oversee.
Welden said he is still feeling good about the fall sports schedule, even when it comes to football, which is considered the most high-risk sport.
“I really feel like we are going to have a season, but it’s going to look different,” Welden said. “But that’s not always a bad thing. I think practices will be different, where you’re not doing entire-team drills but working in smaller groups. Maybe that’s a better way to run practices anyway, to focus on each kid instead of just the 13 or so you’re really going to need to perform on game day. We all know that practices aren’t as physical as they were 15 years ago, so that adjustment has already been made in terms of full tackling.”
Big Foot plans to begin workouts Monday, with an eye at having its fall camp beginning July 19.
While Welden has the hands-on coaching experience, Racky is a former Big Foot athlete herself.
“I like to say that my senior class team started the Big Foot volleyball tradition,” Racky said. “We won the first of many consecutive conference titles in 2006 in my senior year. Even if I just played a small role in that, it definitely feels good to be a member of that team.”
Racky said she is looking forward to getting going.
“Mike and I have already had conversations as to what we see Big Foot sports looking like,” Racky said. “And I’m really optimistic about the future. I think it all starts with the relationships kids have with their coaches, and that’s something we are all going to talk about as a staff, and to make sure that we’re giving coaches everything they need to succeed.”