Q&A with Springstead High School’s Athletic Director Dustin Kupcik
Interview and Photography by Alice Herden, Hernando Sun
Q: For how long have you been Athletic Director (AD) for Springstead High?
A: Well, since I started in April I am actually already into my 6th year as AD at Springstead.
Q: Over the years have you seen changes in the way you adapted to your role and what would be some of those changes and how have they become instrumental in your position?
A: Over the past 5-6 years technology has really changed, mostly for the better, the way we do our job. We have transitioned to paperless FHSAA paperwork and athlete registration, as well as paperless ticketing and pay to pay fees. While it may make everyone else's lives easier, it does equate to more on an AD's plate. Take ticketing, for example, we have to set up everyone's schedules, monitor capacities, take care of refunds and cancellations. We are now essentially the box office, that is something that has never been on our plate before last year. The athletics website and social media accounts have also blossomed, but they too require time and energy. As crazy as it seems, 5 and half years ago when I first started, everything I just mentioned wasn't even on our radar. ADs in our county still have to teach during the day, so being on the go, and often in different locations, technology has made it easier to stay on top of a lot of things. I simply do not know how I could do my job without my One Drive, iPhone, laptop, email, and social media. All of the above have become essential in the life of a high school AD.
Q: An Athletic Director has many roles, one of them is to build that connection with the families of these student-athletes. What are the ways you are achieving that?
A: First and foremost, our Springstead Athletics website and social media accounts are communication tools to get info to our parents quickly and efficiently. Whether it be a game cancellation, a reminder of a meeting, or recognizing our student-athletes' accomplishments, our parents can stay connected 24/7 and get the info almost as quickly as we get it. We also added a YouTube channel last year so we could live stream games for those that were unable to attend competitions because of COVID and have since added tutorials and a podcast, The Stead Cast, to our channel. We see this YouTube channel as just another way for students, families, and fans to stay connected and learn more about Springstead Athletics. Another activity that we do to connect with our families is our College Recruiting Info Night. We meet with parents and guardians as well as the student-athletes to discuss the ins and outs of recruiting, it’s really like learning a whole other language. We also bring in former Springstead student-athletes that have gone on to play at the collegiate level, so they can share their recruiting experiences and some real-life recruiting do's and don'ts.
Lastly, our most important family engagement activity, and most attended, are the 3 big parent meetings we have each school year. We have one for each sports season. We go over the expectations and requirements of a Springstead student-athlete, as well as the expectation of a parent/guardian of a Springstead student-athlete. We communicate our successes of the past year, get them up to date on facility upgrades, discuss the college recruiting process and show them how they can support Springstead Athletics through volunteering or sponsorship. Most importantly, we go over what Springstead Athletics is all about; who we are, what we represent, and what we are trying to accomplish on and off the field or court. We want to form a partnership with our parents and our families so their/our student-athletes can be as successful as possible.
Q: Having the opportunity to oversee sports for so many years, what were the most influential events /moments that captured a sense that you as an AD were successful?
A: It is near impossible for me to pick just one moment or even a single category of moments. I feel successful when my coaches and student-athletes feel success. At the end of a big win at home, I feel success. Success in the win column and the success of putting on a well-run event. I feel success when we unveil a newly upgraded facility. I know how much it means to our alumni and current students to have the best facilities possible. I also know the sense of pride the kids have in our facilities. I feel success when we as a collective group of ADs, make positive changes in our county. Even some of the smallest victories make a big impact for our coaches and student-athletes. Lastly, and most importantly, I feel success when we are doing something for others, whether it be a Beautify The Stead Day, or bigger events like Clash 4 Clayton or Hoops Against Hunger. When we are able to make an impact on the community and our student-athletes at the same time, I feel like we are accomplishing a lot of what we set out to accomplish in our athletics program.