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Stephen Speck, who served as an athletic director in Carroll County for the past 11 years, is taking over as the AD at South Western High School in Hanover, Pa.
Stephen Speck, who served as an athletic director in Carroll County for the past 11 years, is taking over as the AD at South Western High School in Hanover, Pa. (Courtesy photo)

Stephen Speck’s 20-year career as an educator, coach, and athletic director has taken place within the Carroll County Public Schools system.

That run came to an official end this week with Speck’s first days as AD for the South Western School District in Hanover, Pennsylvania.

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Speck, 43, took over as athletic director at Francis Scott Key High School four years ago after serving as Winters Mill’s AD for seven years. Before that, Speck coached wrestling and boys tennis at Century, and was a teacher at Linton Springs Elementary School.

He and his family are Hanover residents, however, and when jobs recently became available in the area Speck discussed it with his wife Susan.

The notion of being much closer to Susan and sons Compton, 9, and Chatham, 6, helped fuel Speck’s decision, he said.

“It’s the first time in my … life when my world personally and professionally have the opportunity to coincide,” Speck said. “As much as I love what I’ve done as an AD for the last 11 years … the one love I possess in this world which I know to be greater than that or any other is that which I have for my wife and children.”

Speck said his family is committed to making Hanover part of their future — Susan Speck teaches within the school district, and the boys attend school there as well.

“I wanted to be where they were,” Speck said. “I wanted to pour into this community that has given us so much, that I have come to love as I have.”

Speck is a CCPS product, having graduated from Liberty High in 1993, and said he’s pleased to have been able to work in the same area for the better part of two decades. Leaving Francis Scott Key wasn’t an easy decision, he said.

“Not taking away from any previous placement in the classroom or coaching, or previously as an athletic director, but Francis Scott Key had been arguably my favorite,” Speck said. “I had viewed it as almost a culmination of all the years prior where all the pieces seemed to align beautifully.”

The Eagles had their share of sports success in recent years with Speck as their AD.

Last fall, the football team posted its first winning season in 11 years. The field hockey squad played in the Class 1A state championship game, Key’s first such appearance in 21 years.

In the spring, FSK’s boys track and field team won a 1A West Region meet title.

Speck will be overseeing a district that includes one high school, one middle school (with organized sports), and four elementary schools.

Speck landed the job after a job search conducted by the district over the last few months.

“We think that his passion for athletics and academics, combined with his experience, is going to help with our continued success,” said South Western schools superintendent Jay Burkhart in a recent Evening Sun article. “We're thrilled.”

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Speck said the South Western culture and community matched his style, and the new job was a good fit.

“It was certainly an opportunity that I couldn’t pass,” he said, “and felt that there would be potential for regret if I didn’t take a shot at obtaining it.”

Speck played sports in high school and college before finding a new athletic passion in mixed martial arts. He worked his way into fighting shape and competed professionally a few times before switching into a MMA mentor’s role. Speck is the ministry leader and coach at Faith’s Fighting Followers, a Fellowship of Christian Athletes-based organization.

Speck said he’s eager to get started in his new position, but he won’t soon forget the experience and relationships that were forged in Carroll over the last 20 years.

“I am at peace,” Speck said. “There are moments of which I realize how much I’ll miss those with whom I’ve worked, and that school system of which I’m a product. But I believe, like any other context in life, there’s an evolution. There’s a growth, there’s a maturation.

“In the last decade, decade-and-a-half, I’ve become a husband and a father. And those roles … are the most important.”

NOTE: Carroll County supervisor of athletics David Dolch said a search for Speck’s replacement at Francis Scott Key is ongoing. Interviews should take up to three weeks, Dolch said, and candidates would need approval from the schools superintendent and the Board of Education.

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