A long-time employee of the Washington Court House City School District, Greg Phipps, has been named the new Washington High School athletic director.
He was approved at the board meeting on July 20. His first official full day on the job will be Saturday, Aug. 1.
Former athletic director Mark Bihl has accepted a position with the Greenfield Exempted Village School District.
The Record-Herald spoke to Phipps to get his take on his new job and the challenges that lay ahead for high school sports.
He is the school’s seventh athletic director since Dale Lynch back in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
“I was the physical education teacher at the (Washington) middle school,” Phipps said. “I’ve been the assistant AD for 11 years.”
It was not an easy decision at first, Phipps said.
“I have a mowing business and I’ve been pretty successful and very fortunate with that,” Phipps said. “I’ve been having some back issues and I’ve been told I kind of need to get away from that. It was irritating my back even more.
“I’ve been in athletics most of my life,” Phipps said. “Either coaching or helping the AD or trying to play some. I thought, I’ll go for this and if it works out I’ll get out of the mowing business and pursue this for the rest of my career.”
Phipps has been the coach of the boys tennis team at Washington High School for the past 13 seasons. He was also the head coach of the Lady Lions’ varsity basketball team for 10 seasons.
Phipps spoke about the upcoming fall sports season.
“As of now, we’re full go,” Phipps said.
The first official day of fall sports practice is Saturday, Aug. 1.
The first official non-scrimmage athletic event for the Blue Lions is a golf match at Buckeye Hills Thursday, Aug. 6.
“We have a volleyball scrimmage two days later at home,” Phipps said. “We’ll be monitoring everyone’s temperatures. We will not allow any fans; just the teams and the coaches. All of those folks will have a temperature check.
“We’re planning on full go until the state changes something,” Phipps said.
The first regular season volleyball match is slated for what is also scheduled to be the first day of school, Monday, Aug. 24, at home against Leesburg Fairfield.
Phipps was asked whether parents, students and other members of the public will be allowed to attend that event and under what protocols.
“That by the state has not yet been decided,” Phipps said. “Right now there are professional sports going on with no fans (for example, Major League Baseball, whose season just started last Thursday.)
“We’d like for it to be full-go,” Phipps said, referring to fans in the stands. “We’re not sure and that’s a good ways away.
“We are for sure going to try and tape games so people can see them if we’re not allowed to have them open to the public,” Phipps said.
These events probably would not be broadcast live, but on tape-delay, Phipps noted.
For outdoor events, which is every other fall sport but volleyball and most popularly, football, as regarding spectators, Phipps said, “It would be easier, but, at this time, I can’t see them allowing 100 percent (capacity). Spacing in the bleachers would take a bit of work and planning, but we’re willing to do that if that’s the case.”
Washington High School plans to have a full complement of fall sports teams, with the exception of boys soccer.
“We will not have a boys soccer team this year,” Phipps said. “We only had a handful of young men who were interested. We will try to work throughout the upcoming (school) year to get more interest for next year.
“Being here in the school the last 22 years, teaching and either coaching or working as assistant AD, I just know that we have a great coaching staff and administration to work with,” Phipps said. “That really encouraged me to go for this job.
“Our coaching staff has always done a great job coaching the game,” Phipps said. “It’s been a blessing in my years of experience coaching, when a kid comes back and says, ‘I remember when you taught me this about the game of life.’ I think that’s the most important thing they will learn in sports, a whole lot more than the actual fundamentals of any sport right now.”
Phipps also spoke about an upgrade to some of Washington’s athletic facilities.
“Mr. Bihl, our former athletic director, and myself, were able to get some of the coaches and some members of the middle school administration — Mr. (Eric) Wayne and Mr. (Brady) Streitenberger — and we repainted both the middle school and high school gyms. We put some blue color into it. Both the gyms almost look brand new.
“We went out to the fieldhouse and painted all that,” Phipps said. “All that was from a donation of time, coaches and ADs. It was awesome.”
Phipps said that he has gained a wealth of knowledge from the seven athletic directors he’s known, either as a high school athlete during their respective tenures or otherwise working with them.
“I have gotten a lot of good information from all of them,” Phipps said. “I won’t be just like any of them — I’ll be my own AD — but, I’ve gotten a lot of good insights from all of them.”
Phipps and his wife, Heidi, have one son, Garret, who is scheduled to graduate from the University of Cincinnati in nine months, getting his doctorate in physical therapy.