When Todd Ware took over as the athletic director for Altus Public Schools in March, he never expected to be sitting where he is now as the Oklahoma Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association’s Newcomer Athletic Director of the Year. But that is exactly where he finds himself after winning the award at the Coaches Clinic in Tulsa.
From coach and science teacher to assistant principal to athletic director, the journey has been a long one for Ware, but it has been a one well worth the ride.
“Like many people, you come out of college as a coach and you’re going to conquer the world and you’re going to implement your program and everything is going to be your way or the highway. Then we get to reality and how the world really works and certainly you hope that you have that opportunity to be in a place that is supportive and that you’re allowed to implement your programs and such,” Ware said. “I was fortunate enough to coach 12 years and teach science and right here in Altus I’ve taught and coached six of those years. I had completed my master’s degree in Education Administration at that time and I was really just waiting for a fair opportunity.”
That opportunity came whenever Ware transitioned from teaching to administration as the assistant principal of the high school in 2010.
In total, Ware spent four years as the assistant principal of Altus High School with one year spent as the principal at Altus Elementary School—then Sunset Elementary—in between his two terms.
“I enjoyed what I did, I loved being around kids. While working as an administrator, I was close to athletics as a coach and I’ve stayed very close to the athletic office by assisting when Jeremy Reed was here and Jack Diltz was here,” Ware said. “Administration came and visited with me about a possible move and I sat down and had a good conversation with Mr. [Roger] Hill about expectations and my vision. Certainly, I was excited for the opportunity to step into this office as the athletic director and manage the coaching staff and I’ve just been flattered to be playing this role in working with them in the athletic department.”
One of the reasons for Ware’s excitement was that he would once again have an opportunity to have a connection with athletics, and his role as athletic director would directly influence just how well athletes could develop in the Altus school system.
Ware has long believed in athletics as an important tool to help mold children into productive members of society.
“There are so many attributes that athletics develops and instills into our young people that goes far beyond the game that they’re playing. It’s important to understand how to be part of something bigger than yourself and how other people around you depend on you because you’re part of that team. It helps these young people beyond high school be good husbands, good wives, and employees,” Ware said. “That’s really my ultimate goal is to see the kids that are influenced by our coaching staff and the team around them, to see them be successful as young adults. We all want to win if we can but there is a much bigger picture than just wins and losses and the things that we do here at Altus High School.”
Even with his plan in place and even with all of the success Altus has experienced under his leadership, Ware never expected to win the Newcomer of the Year award.
“I was flattered for sure, it was very humbling. The correspondence that we have as athletic directors across the state is wonderful. It is always nice to be recognized by your peers,” Ware said. “It’s a situation where someone had nominated you and the members vote on it annually. They have a newcomer from the west and a newcomer from the east and I was fortunate enough to be awarded it this year for the west while Jason Parker of Sapulpa won the award for the east.”
“While at the clinic, I had a chance to really meet and get to know Jason Parker who is a great guy. It’s always nice that people around the state recognize the work and things that we all put in and certainly there are many, many other directors across the state who are very deserving of recognition, to say the least,” he added. “It’s special to me and the guys and the gals that I get to work with and that I correspond with and the network that we have is phenomenal. There’s always someone you can reach out to and see what is going on in other parts of the state or see how other school districts maybe manage some things or what kind of policies they have. Just the same, hopefully, someone can gain some things from what we’re doing here in Altus.”
In administration, things are constantly changing and evolving. One thing that Ware has hoped to accomplish is to continue taking Altus sports in the right direction.
“There were many, many great things going on in this office before I ever got here and we want to continue to take Altus in the right direction. I preach to my staff, we’re in education and we have to be lifelong learners and I’m no exception to that,” Ware said. “I try to be a sponge wherever I’m at and absorb all I can and hopefully, across the state, we benefit from one another when it comes to policy, procedures, and ultimately what is best for the kids.”
“I love what I do, I’ve always loved sports, and I love children and watching our kids thrive on and off the field or the court. It’s something that brings great pride to me,” he added. “I think we have that pride and passion across the board in our staff and our people. I wouldn’t trade my staff for anyone. It’s a special, special group of coaches that we have here and we’re very successful and we’re able to accomplish a lot of things.”
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.