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January 20, 1989 - Image 38

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-01-20

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'80s Men

Three Jewish athletic directors
keep suburban high school
athletes in the game.



Sports Writer

ollowing the Jewish mi-
gration from Detroit to the
suburbs, three athletic ad-
ministrators, all of whom
attended Detroit schools,
have become athletic directors at
suburban high schools in the 1980s.
Dick Rosenthal is the athletic direc-
tor at Birmingham Seaholm High
School, Howard Stone oversees sports
and physical education in Oak Park
and Bob Gershman is in charge of
sports and phys. ed. at Berkley. The
fourth area Jewish AD is still in
Detroit, Sam Taub, the long-time
athletic director at Mumford High
Stone graduated from Mumford
and Eastern Michigan. He has work-
ed in the Oak Park school district for
29 years, teaching physical education
at junior high — middle school and
high school levels. He coached basket-
ball, track and baseball at Roosevelt
Middle School and coached varsity
boys' and girls' tennis for 10 years at
Oak Park High, winning 10 league
titles and never suffering a losing
season. He became district-physical
education director six years ago and
in 1985 became director of physical
education and athletics.
Bob Gershman graduated from
Detroit Henry Ford High School in
1967. He earned a bachelor's degree
from Wayne State in 1972 and a
master's in sports administration in
Gershman taught physical educa-
tion in every school in the Berkley
district, except the high school. He
was assistant varsity basketball
coach for 10 years, gave it up to spend
more time with his family, then, ap-
plied for the vacant AD position in
1986. This is his third year as direc-
tor of health, physical education and
Dick Rosenthal graduated from
Detroit Central High School, where
he swam for one season, which trig-
gered an interest in coaching swim-
mers. By the time he graduated from
Wayne University (now Wayne State),
he had already begun his coaching
career at the North Branch YMCA in
Highland Park, where he coached two
state championship teams in three



After a two-year military stint
Rosenthal began teaching in Detroit
and coaching at the Meyers/Curtis
Jewish Community Center. His
quarter-century association with Bir-
mingham schools began at Berkshire
Junior High, where Rosenthal taught
and coached boys' swimming. His
teams were unbeaten for "12 or 13
years" in a row, he says. In 1980 he
_ began coaching the boys' varsity at
Seaholm High School, where he has
won five league swim crowns with
four runner-up finishes. He became
the school's athletic director in
December 1980.
Juggling two jobs is difficult, but
Rosenthal- may not do it much longer.
"I am giving some very, very serious
consideration to giving up the
coaching;' says Rosenthal, whose
Maples are in the middle of their
season. "I love the kids and I love the
coaching. But it's extremely time-
consuming." The AD job, he adds, "is
a one-and-one-half full-time job just by
Stone says his job, which includes
supervision of physical education pro-
grams at all the district's schools,
prevents him from coaching. "It takes
a lot of time, a lot more time than I
thought . . . It's not unusual for an
athletic director to be in a building 15
hours a day."
The most important part of the
job, says Gershman, "is being visible.
The fun part of the job should be at
night when the games are played .. .
However, to be visible an athletic
director has to be at all these contests
and that can take a real toll because
you're working all day on your paper-
work, your scheduling and the of-
ficials. Then you've also got to be
there at night to help supervise that
Athletic directors' jobs typically
include scheduling games and game
officials, usually one year in advance,
as well as arranging for transporta-
tion to road games and faculty super-
vision of home contests. The AD
manages the budget, decides when to
buy new uniforms, and selects the
In addition to that regular
routine, Rosenthal notes that ADs en-
counter numerous, day-to-day
"Every day, when I walk into this
office," says Rosenthal, "I have no idea

Oak Park's Howard Stone.

what's coming down. The phone rare-
ly rings and someone says, 'Hey, Dick,
you're doing a tremendous job. I'm on-
ly calling up to say everything is just
fine.' Every time the phone rings,
generally there's another problem."
Still, the ADs enjoy the challenge.
"It's a nice change of pace from my
teaching that I was doing for 20-odd
years," says Rosenthal. "I believe that
every person in their adult career, if
at all possible, should have some sort
of a career change - so you don't get
stagnant. This is the one for me and
I thrive on it."
Budgeting is a major challenge
cited by all three athletic directors.
Another is hiring coaches. Gershman
does not emphasize the won-loss
record when hiring or firing coaches.
"As long as I feel a coach is giving the
students on his team the best possi-
ble learning and the best possible
techniques, I'll probably never fire
anybody for a won-loss record.
"I think there's too much em-
phasis on that. I think it gets out of
hand with the kids, with the coaches
and with the parents. The pressure to
succeed is sometimes more than what
the finished product's worth."

"When you hire the coaches, you
get the people who you think would
be good for you, good for the students,"
explains Stone, adding, "winning is
not the criterion for hiring a coach
back. If you're a good teacher, a good
teacher's a good coach. If you're doing
that but you don't have the horses in
a given year, you're not going to win:'
But a winning team, such as Oak
Park's 1984 Class B state champion-
ship basketball squad, can generate
excitement throughout a school and
among the alumni. "Not only does it
build up the program;' says Stone, "I
think it builds up your school spirit.
I think it makes everybody enthused,
the faculty who you don't see come out
to a game too often — everyone joins
on the bandwagon and comes out to
the games."
There are several issues in
Michigan High School sports which
the ADs are concerned about. Rosen-
thal wants to see more teachers
coaching teams. "That's not to say
that our, quote, rent-a-coaches that we
get, which is 60 to 70 percent in some
buildings, don't do a good job. But
most of them do not have an educa-
tional background. Most of them may

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