In a year of uncertainty in high school sports that were cancelled in the spring and postponed this fall and winter because of the coronavirus pandemic invasion, Catonsville athletic director Rich Hambor has certainly experienced a range of emotions.
But, Hambor, who took over as athletic director in 2018, finally got some good news earlier this week when he was recognized by the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association as a certified athletic administrator (CAA).
According to the association, Hambor, a Cockeysville resident, is one of an elite group of interscholastic athletic administrators nationwide to attain this level of professionalism.
The voluntary certification process includes a thorough evaluation of candidates’ educational background, experience, and professional contributions, as well as a rigorous, comprehensive written examination. The designation was first offered in 1988, and as of today, only 7,785 athletic administrators have achieved the CAA designation.
The NIAAA is a national professional organization consisting of all 50 state athletic administrator associations and more than 12,000 individual members. It is dedicated to promoting the professional growth of high school athletic administrators and preserving the educational nature of interscholastic athletics and the place of these programs in the secondary school curriculum.
Hambor, who was born in Fairport Harbor, Ohio, started coaching varsity football at Catonsville High in 2004 and coached 14 years.
The 2004 team was the first in school history to make the playoffs and the following season the 2005 team won the school’s first playoff game on the gridiron.
Catonsville also made the playoffs in 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and the Comets were Baltimore County and Class 4A North Region champions in 2011.
He had an 85-62 career record and the 85 victories were the most by any coach in school history.
“Rich has been an advocate for student athletes for nearly 25 years,” said Matthew Ames, principal of Catonsville High School. “As a coach, he led his teams by exemplifying all that is good in sports and the lessons it teaches us all. Now as the leader of the Catonsville High School Athletic Department, he brings that same passion and philosophy to the programs and coaches he supports.”
As coach of the varsity baseball team, Hambor earned a career record of 164-90, and the team won Baltimore County championships in 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2013.
The 2007 Comets, led by Adam Kolarek, who now pitches for the Los Angeles Dodgers, won a Class 3A regional title and lost in the state semifinals to Centennial.
This season, Kolarek has pitched 10 scoreless innings in nine appearances with eight strikeouts, four hits and no walks allowed.
He is 2-0 for the Dodgers, who have the best record in baseball at 24-9.
Hambor’s 2013 squad lost to South River in the state finals, after winning the Class 4A regional crown and beating Churchill in the state semis.
As a state leader in athletics, Hambor served as the Class 3A-4A North regional chairperson in football for seven years and as the Class 4A North regional chairperson in baseball for two years.
When he took over for James Fitzpatrick in the summer of 2018, the former athletic director of four years praised him as a coach saying, “”The biggest downside for Rich being the athletic director is he is not going to have Rich as a coach.”
To achieve the certification, Hambor was required to pass an online test.
“It’s just kind of showing that you have taken the course work and had the experience to kind of move on to another level,” Hambor said. “It’s more of trying to stay current, not even COVID, just anything new.”
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