Simoneau takes over AD duties at Conant

Longtime golf coach to assume part-time role

Quite a few years ago, Rick Simoneau thought about applying for the athletic director position at Conant.

Longtime AD Jim Adams was retiring after the 2006-07 school year and Conant was looking for a replacement to help lead the athletic department into a new era. But the timing was not right for Simoneau, who had a young family with one daughter in middle school and twin daughters in elementary school.

While Simoneau would have liked to take over the position, he knew it would not work.

But when he was approached in the middle of this past school year about pursuing the role as Conant’s athletic director, Simoneau had his second chance. The school had seen three different athletic directors in the last six years and a restructuring at the administration level had the position open once again.

“It’s the perfect time to do it,” said Simoneau. “My years as a coach and working with various athletic directors... I know what to expect.”

After the interview process and some reshuffling of his teaching schedule, Simoneau took over the duties as Conant’s new athletic director effective July 1. He will also serve as athletic director for Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School.

“It’s going to be a challenge because it’s both the middle school and high school,” said Simoneau. “You have so many different facets to it.”

Simoneau, a social studies teacher who is entering his 14th year at Conant, will now teach two blocks a day and spend the other two addressing the needs of the athletic department — much like the way Adams did it during his tenure. He will teach first and third blocks, and be in the AD office for second and fourth blocks.

It will be a new challenge for Simoneau, but something he is ready for. He has spent the last 10 falls as the Conant golf coach and will continue in that role this year. Since the golf season is less than two months long from the beginning of preseason to the Division III state championships on Oct. 10, Simoneau believes he can manage both jobs.

“There is a coach’s perspective I’d like to bring to the AD position,” said Simoneau. “I’ve got some ideas that I shared during the interview process that I hope to bring to the program.”

Simoneau is looking forward to providing stability to the position, considering how it has seen a lot of turnover in recent years. Ethan Perry, who works in the administration office, spent two years at the helm of the athletic department. Conant assistant principal Larry Pimental held the job for the next two and Rob Clark, the Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School assistant principal, has served in the role for the last two.

“At this point I think stability is a good word,” said Simoneau. “The community has seen so many people in the position. One thing I want the community and the parents to see me as is a long term person in this role.”

With Conant Principal John Barth taking over the middle school principal duties as well for the upcoming year, both Pimental and Clark will see an increase in their roles. And that is a reason why there was a need to revisit the athletic director position.

“At that point, they decided there was going to be a lot more for the assistant principals to do,” said Simoneau. “And they decided to go back to the old Jim Adams model.”

While Simoneau is new to the job, he will have plenty of resources in the building since all three previous athletic directors still work at the schools. He has already leaned on all three for advice and guidance.

“I’m actually in a pretty good position having three former athletic directors in the school,” said Simoneau.

The most important thing for Simoneau is the student athletes. He feels that athletics is a vital part of the educational experience and it is now his job to make sure each athlete excels.

“During the interview process, they asked me what I thought my role would be. My role as athletic director, whether its a championship team or not, I want to give every athlete the coaching and resources to have a positive experience.”

And he knows there are a lot of expectations on the athletic program. The boys basketball and baseball teams won Division III state championships last year, while the girls basketball team made the Final Four. There was also quite a bit of individual success in sports like golf, swimming and track and field.

It is an exciting new endeavor for Simoneau, who has already spent quite a bit of time in his office this summer. And he is prepared to put his best effort forward each and every day.

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