When Coombs first applied for the open AD position following the retirement of Jamie Felten, one of the sacrifices he made in order to fill the void was hanging up his football and softball coaching hat. While stepping away from coaching was difficult at first, Coombs said his background actually helped in the transition to the AD office.
“I think the biggest thing is since I coached both boys and girls in football and softball, I know what it’s like,” Coombs said. “For me personally, making the transition wasn’t that difficult because we have such great coaches at our school that I knew and had good relationships with prior to moving into the athletic director position. It was pretty seamless. I think the respect I had for them and the respect they had for me when I took over made it real easy.”
Since settling into the new role, Coombs has enjoyed his time while also being exposed to some surprises.
“It’s been a mostly positive experience. It’s been an eye-opening experience,” Coombs said. “You learn a lot of different things about a lot of different issues that happen inside of sports in high school. I don’t think there’s been a day I haven’t enjoyed it though.”
One of the things that has been a surprise to Coombs as the Reed AD actually deals with off the field issues rather than on.
“The amount of paperwork I think has been the biggest shock. There’s a ton that we go through,” Coombs said. “Anything that we do in athletics, from clearing athletes to changing games or whatever we do scheduling wise, there is a ton of paperwork we do in the athletic department. It’s at times a bit overwhelming.”
Despite the stacks on stacks of paperwork that Coombs is responsible for, it does not take away from the joys of being the Raiders’ Athletic Director.
“There’s been so many great things that have happened,” Coombs said. “The success of our teams is probably the thing that I enjoy the most. We’ve had a lot of kids get scholarships to go on and continue their playing careers. The last three years our athletic programs have been consistently good and we’ve had a few that have really stepped up and hung some banners in that gym. It’s because we have great coaches and we have great kids. That’s the best part of it. I think I’ve been to every sport we have for at least one home and one away contest and 90 percent of the home games. So being able to see our kids go out and perform and see how hard they work, that’s the best part of the job. The games are kind of gravy for what you do all during the week.
“We have outstanding young people at our school and it makes you proud everyday to see those kids succeed. It makes it a lot of fun. There’s a lot to celebrate with what‘s going on at Reed. Being able to watch our seniors walk through graduation and having the chance to congratulate each and every one of them. It all makes it worth while.”
What has added to the fun over the past three years has been the progress that Coombs has been a part of at Reed High, including the introduction of the Mayor’s Cup and a new field for the Lady Raiders softball team.
“These three years have gone by pretty fast. We’ve done a lot,” Coombs said. “With the Mayor’s Cup, I think it’s been real successful. Obviously it’s a very young competition, but I think everyone is real excited moving forward with that.
“With the softball field, that’s something that when I was coaching softball, we had been promised a long time ago. It’s actually something that has been one of the main goals that I put down when I interviewed for the AD position. To be able to see it come to fruition last year was awesome. We had such great help from all the parents. It was just amazing and to be able to walk out there everyday and see it, it’s just exciting to have that on-site facility for one of our most successful programs in the history of the school. It puts a smile on your face everyday you see it.”
Now moving into his fourth year as the Reed AD, Coombs said he wants the improvements to continue for the Raiders.
“We’ve got a lot of things in the works. Three years ago when I first started Reed started a program called the ‘Golden Raider’ and that celebrates our multi-sport athletes that also are successful in the classroom,” he said. “It’s kids who have earned five varsity letters in their four years at Reed, and they have to earn two varsity letters in their senior year. On top of that, they have to carry a 3.7 GPA. We’ve been able to team up with our booster club in the past three years to take those kids and their families out to dinner to celebrate them. We want to continue that.
“The last three years we have had athletic department scholarships and we were able to give four of our student-athletes, two male and two female, each $500 scholarships toward secondary education. For me, that’s what I really want to expand. I want to expand not only the amount of scholarships but also the amount of money we can hand out because we’ve got a lot of great kids that do a lot of different things for us athletically, but also do phenomenal in the classroom. Our baseball team won the academic state championship last year. Sierra Hooft was a three-sport athlete that carried a GPA over 5.0 which is ridiculous and we want to be able to help more kids like that out.”