A dry-erase board hangs on the wall to the right of Liz Padgett’s desk, listing a week’s worth of Manchester Valley sporting events.
Newspaper clippings and photos highlighting the Mavericks’ teams and athletes are thumbtacked to the wall above her desk, and Gatorade protein snacks and energy chews sit off to the side. The snacks, she said, are there should anyone want to drop in and chat.
Padgett, 37, became Manchester Valley High School’s new athletic director over the summer after spending 13 years at South Carroll High, where she taught chemistry and coached the girls varsity basketball team for 13 seasons.
Padgett said her experience at South Carroll allowed her to interact with coaches and athletes who could coach, and teach, in many different ways. These strategies helped her adjust to contrasting methods of doing both, and doing them effectively.
“Everybody has their own way and you have to learn how to appreciate everybody’s way,” Padgett said. “That’s what we have to do, we have to be able to take these learning opportunities and teach these kids on the fly. You’re in a one-point game; teach your kids how to take advantage of it.”
Much of Padgett’s learning experience in her new role has consisted of swift tasks and tactical decision-making. She started on Aug. 2 and went right to work organizing tryout times for the fall sports, verifying schedules, and making sure the coaches were organized and equipped with what they needed to prepare for the upcoming season.
She said former Man Valley AD Troy Warehime had already completed new hires and created schedules that made the transition easier.
(Warehime was relocated to Francis Scott Key over the summer and replaced Stephen Speck as the Eagles’ new AD.)
“It went so fast, there’s so much to do,” Padgett said. “You just go, you put one foot in front of the other.”
Padgett worked at Fort Detrick in Frederick doing molecular technology research prior to accepting the coaching position at South Carroll in 2005. She started teaching chemistry at SC in her third year of coaching, and got her Master’s degree in Athletic Administration from Concordia University in Irvine six years later.
She served as an assistant athletic director under current Cavaliers AD Jim Horn for three years and gained experience performing typical duties of the role such as lining fields before games, working with guests at ticket booths, and learning the security aspects of running sporting events. Horn said he knew becoming an athletic director was a passion for Padgett, and he worked closely to help her learn the role as much as possible.
“She’s very motivated and this is really the job she wanted all along,” Horn said. “She’s a very good teacher and coach and this is what she really wanted to do. She’s very organized and she’s very enthusiastic and she lets that come out as she’s doing her job.”
Padgett credited Horn, as well as some of her current Man Valley coaches for their help during her transition and said having so many of them working as teachers and administrators in the building provides her, and the athletes, with an advantage — an increase in the development of relationships.
Getting to know the kids and their names makes a big difference, she said. She adapted similar traits at South Carroll with the Cavaliers’ feeder programs, and said she hopes to see that rapport build between Man Valley’s varsity and feeder programs as well.
“An athletic director is a unique situation and you only get to work with a certain number of kids,” Horn said. “You work with really just athletes and it’s difficult when you have such limited access to them to really get to know those kids unless you really take the time and have a passion to see what they’re doing in the classroom and outside other than just on the athletic field.
“I think she’s had that and she’s been put in a real difficult situation in a brand new school not knowing any of the kids but her background is going to help her a lot in that facet.”
With one full sports season in the books, Padgett feels more comfortable every day. Her relationships with athletes and coaches have improved as well as her familiarity with Man Valley’s facilities, and she anticipates what’s to come.