With Rhinelander fall sports seasons priming to take off, it is easy to focus on each respective sport individually and cheer for your favorite players and teams. But one man doesn’t have the opportunity to do that, or the desire, as it not only is the athletic director’s job, but his passion, to plan the year’s sporting events, fill coaching vacancies and ensure Rhinelander athletic success.
With activities such as football, soccer, tennis, volleyball, cross country and swimming ready to begin, Charlie LaHam has been putting in the time to make sure each individual season can be a success. One aspect to this process is making sure that all programs are led by the best possible option, and with the recent bevy of departures from coaching positions, LaHam has been working hard to ensure the programs continued success.
“We always deal with coaching openings,” explained Mr. LaHam, “but this year was an anomaly that we had many at once.”
There is a process that the school follows when selecting a coach for a particular sport, and one that has many benefits.
“First we post the opening within the school district because we always have a desire to hire a teacher or staff member first,” he said. “We don’t want to lose contact with the kids.”
Utilizing interview committees, recommendations and local media, LaHam does everything possible to provide the best leadership, coaching and mentorship for the young high school athletes.
“Sometimes it’s a very lengthy process, taking a lot of exposure to find someone for the position,” he said. “Other times I’ve had two fine prospects within 12 hours. Things can turn right around.”
Another aspect of our athletic director’s job is making sure all sports schedules run smoothly throughout the entire year. Juggling all activities while considering the challenges of the weather, transportation and hired officials is no easy task, but one LaHam willingly and enthusiastically accepts.
“Fall is a really busy season, but all of the sports are outdoor sports besides volleyball and swimming,” he said. “It is the easiest season facility wise. Volleyball, swimming, football, soccer and tennis all have their own areas. It is difficult to coordinate football field time, but we always find a way.
“The hardest is rescheduling. The season is usually full before something gets canceled, and we always hold conference games above non-conference,” continued LaHam. “It’s more than people think, with buses, referees and the team themselves. It becomes really interesting trying to find an available date to reschedule.”
When the coordination and the hiring all comes together, LaHam gets to enjoy watching the programs he helped build accomplish their goals. Following such a successful year in Rhinelander’s Great Northern Conference debut, LaHam is exciting to see how this year’s athletics will grow.
“The one thing that we really liked about this conference change is we always felt we could be successful,” he said. “We were questioned about moving, but find me someone who isn’t excited about winning conference championships. We are very proud of what we accomplished, and we have kids who went to state. It was a really successful year.”
Nobody will know if LaHam got things right for the upcoming fall sports season until it’s all over. But if his past record is any indication, then the Hodags and their fans are in good hands.