Bardwell resigns as Southridge's athletic directorJanuary 10, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
HUNTINGBURG — An end of an era will soon be upon Southridge.
Athletic director Brett Bardwell announced his resignation, effective at the end of the school year, Thursday at the Southwest Dubois school board meeting. The 58-year old graduated from Southridge in 1979 and took over the athletic director position during the 1999-00 school year.
He plans to remain on teaching psychology and sociology at the school. Bardwell had been thinking about this the last few years. For him, it was time. He said his family has to come first and has two daughters, Ellie and Laney. He is excited for what’s next, but he is sad to be stepping down.
“I would not have been able to do this job anywhere else, and that’s an honest statement,” Bardwell said. “I couldn’t have done this job anywhere else because then it would’ve been a job. For me, it’s a passion, it’s a joy, to go to ballgames, to see people from the community and know the kids and at Southridge, it’s something that gets in your blood.”
Bardwell said there were times the position was demanding and time consuming. It didn’t always feel like a job, however. The 21 years have flown by for him. Bardwell loves what he does, his school and his community.
Father Jim also served as athletic director for many years. Brett previously taught and coached at Franklin Community High School. He never dreamed of being an athletic director like his father was, but took the position because he wanted to go back home to Huntingburg. Brett loved his time when he was a student athlete at Southridge, and has maintained that passion for the school all these years later.
“I really didn’t know at all what I was doing,” Brett said. “I remember the first day on the job, I got in the office and just stood there and then started walking around the halls in the school, thinking, ‘I’m not sure what to do,’ but I figured it out. It’s gone fast and ...was a pretty good fit for me.”
Brett is proud of how competitive the athletes and teams have been through the years. One proud moment in his tenure as athletic director came in 2017 when the Raiders brought home their first-ever state football championship. He thought they might have had a pretty good team. Perhaps a 5-4 record might’ve been realistic, but Southridge went all the way that year. The overtime winner against Evansville Mater Dei came to mind for him, and Brett believed the Raiders had a chance when it came to the state championship against Woodlan, edging out a 15-14 win.
“I’ll never forget it, and it was awesome to be a part of that, to win a state championship, it really was,” he said.
What Brett is proudest of, though, is the people Southridge has brought together through the years. He’s proud of the culture Southridge has created and the reputation the athletic program has developed. Brett has sought to get a good person, not just a good coach, when hiring somebody in charge of a program.
He called it an honor to be a coach, with a chance to influence a person’s life. His philosophy has been to surround himself with good people and get out of their way. Brett hasn’t had to push a coach, calling the ones at Southridge self-motivated. He thinks coaching is a hard job. He noticed that it’s getting harder and harder to find coaches. An athletic director has to nurture and support coaches while also mentoring them and give them what they need to succeed. Brett’s learned that being an athletic director is a service job.
Brett said an athletic director must have a passion for the job, be a people person and build relationships with them, treat them right. He added an athletic director must be a role model for the coaches by building a culture on character, dignity, sportsmanship and more.
He hopes to enjoy every day for the remainder of his tenure. Brett thinks the Raiders still have a chance for great success during the winter and spring.
“I’m going to go out strong and I hope to leave everything in a good order for the next person so when they come in, all the schedules are set and the officials are hired — it’s ready for them to go so it’s a smooth transition,” he said. “I think that’s what I want to do and just continue to do what I do and just enjoy it and support my coaches all the way. We hope to do some great things yet this year.”
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