Bardwell discusses Maas AwardOctober 14, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
It’s been an accomplished life for Brett Bardwell, and the accolades keep on coming for the former Southridge athletic director.
Bardwell recently received the Charles Maas Distinguished Service Award from the Indiana Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. The Maas Award mostly honors athletic administrators. Its namesake, Charles Maas, is enshrined in the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame and was an assistant commissioner of the Indiana High School Athletic Association.
“I just was very, very honored, to be honest, and I think I was happy,” Bardwell said. “I think it meant a lot to me that it was determined by, or given out by, and voted on by my peers and other athletic directors — people I had worked with for 20-some years. I think when your peers select you, it’s really an honor and very humbling, and I was just very thankful to receive it.”
It made Bardwell reminisce of all the good things he was a part of at Southridge — from the coaches, to the athletes, to the community. The 1979 graduate returned to his alma mater and served as athletic director from 1999-2020, but he feels this is a community award. He is proud of both the reputation Southridge has, and that the community has in Southwest Indiana when it comes to a lot of things — including athletics.
Bardwell’s take on being an athletic director is that it’s a service job. He always tried to surround himself with good people from the community, and also good coaches — and letting them do their thing. That, he thought, was a secret to success. He called the members of the community, “first class people” that have helped Raider athletics.
“There’s so many great people in this field of administration — it’s a job like nobody else could understand,” he said. “Getting to work with so many other ADs that are so dedicated, including the ADs right now for example in Dubois County. (Jasper’s) Brian Lewis and (Northeast Dubois’) Terry Friedman, now Coach (Scott) Buening at Southridge and (Forest Park’s) Doug Louden — those are great people. They’re as good as any ADs in the state.”
What Bardwell is proudest of in his two-decade tenure as Southridge’s athletic director was that he kept things going from his predecessor — father Jim Bardwell, who set the bar. He laughed in saying that he managed to not mess up too much and help Southridge continue to succeed and give kids a chance to succeed. Brett is also proud of the relationships he developed with different people he worked with.
Brett thinks some of the things his dad told him was to be himself, support the coaches and their ideas. Jim wanted his son to develop relationships with his fellow athletic directors. Brett told of his father wanting him to enjoy the job, because it is stressful, and enjoy it he did. Jim also advised Brett not to take things personally when people complained about something. If anything, Brett was told to take that as a compliment because people in the community knew him and felt comfortable talking to him.
He remembers probably passing some of the same things onto Buening that his father did to him. Brett also advised him not to try and control everything. He told Buening that he can only do so much, and do the best with what he has. Brett wanted him to try to enjoy the job, but not to live it too much because it can burn somebody out, and there's no doubt in Brett's mind that Buening is doing a great job in the role.
Brett is still in the transitional phase of life after being an athletic director. He knows there are parts he misses, but also parts he doesn’t miss, and he doesn’t think he can do it again.
“I was really afraid that I would be bored, and I was afraid that I would have so much time on my hands that I wouldn’t know what to do — but that has not really been the case,” Brett said. “This new life that I’ve moved onto now has really got a lot of positives to it. My mind is fresher. I can focus on my kids more —focus on my family more, a little less stress, a lot more time to do things I want to do.
“But I miss those football Friday nights, and there’s going to be some other things that I’m going to miss for a while because you did it for so long, and love being a part of it,” he continued. “But I still hope to stay around and continue to support the Raiders and love the Raiders. If there’s ever anything that I can do to still be around, I’ll do it.”
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