Ask the AD - Karl Heimbach, Magruder High School

This summer, CSZ will be doing a segment on the WICKipedia entitled "Ask the AD". In this feature, we'll be conducting Q&A's with various athletic directors around Maryland to learn more about how different high schools run their athletic programs, and what to expect from them in the future.

Today, we're featuring Karl Heimbach from Magruder High School in Montgomery County! During our conversation, Karl talked to us about a wide array of topics, include his excitement to see Magruder's teams finally be able to play home games in a stadium on campus after a two year hiatus.

Karl Heimbach 001

County Sports Zone:How did you become the athletic director at Magruder? How did your appointment come about?

Karl Heimbach:I was always interested in being an AD. In addition to teaching, I had been the varsity boys and girls soccer coach. Early in my career, I became the assistant AD for some events and also became the soccer director for MCPS, which made me involved with soccer at the state level. For 26 years I was doing the athletic handbook for soccer, which makes the policies and schedule for MCPS. That gives you some insight into how athletic administration works in the county and the state.

When the position opened 17 years ago, I already had a lot of experience, so it was a natural fit to make that switch.

CSZ:How has the job changed since you started?

KH:The responsibilities have increased, as has the paperwork. Nowadays we deal with things like concussions, concussion testing and making sure that legally everything is being complied with. I also spend a lot of time dealing with the certifications for my coaches, making sure they are up to date and current. The job requires a lot more accountability and reliability than it did 17 years ago.

CSZ:What do you enjoy most about your job?

KH:I really enjoy seeing improvements. The first thing is the facilities- each year I have tried to improve and upgrade our facilities. I work with coaches in terms of their certifications, try to push them to the next level so that our athletes can get more opportunities and also go to that next level.

Another thing I got myself involved in was the Maryland State Athletic Directors Association. I had two six year terms, one as vice president and one as president. I currently serve as the organization's assistant executive director.

I'm also involved with the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. Maryland had the opportunity to have a person be on the association's National Board of Directors, which I did from 2013-15, serving as the Section 2 representative. So over my 17 years I've been fortunate enough to not just work at the school or county level, but at the national level.

I also teach sports management in grad school for McDaniel, a program which many current athletic directors in Montgomery County attended. That's something I really enjoy.

Seeing our athletes play in college, then come back to coach either at Magruder or in Montgomery County is really exciting for me. Working with people and helping them in their passions is what I've found to be the most rewarding part of this job.

CSZ:What're a couple keys to running a successful athletics program?

KH:You have to be organized. So many things are pulling at you from so many different directions. Personally, I try to be one or two seasons ahead, so I'm already planning winter activities. You have to be detail oriented, prioritize and be organized because every day is different.

CSZ:What're a couple things you've accomplished as athletic director that you are particularly proud of?

KH:There isn't one facility that has not gotten better during my time at Magruder. Our softball field has dugouts, storage containers and an irrigation system. Practice fields, the baseball field, stadium scoreboards, new scoreboards in the gym, the track project- all these improvements help make the athletics program better. The goal is to have the best you can for your students.

CSZ:How would you rate this past year for Magruder Athletics? Were there any highlights?

KH:It was a difficult year in terms of we had to play all our stadium games and track events away for almost the second year in a row because of construction with the new stadium. We had to use Gaithersburg as our home field for football, which was a major project.

We went from 4A to 3A, which means we were playing teams at the state level we had never played before, so that was exciting. Plenty of our teams made regional finals. So on the field, it was a good year.

CSZ:Yesterday was the first day of athletics for the 2016-17 school year. What kind of day is that for the AD, and how excited are you for the start of the new season?

KH:Well, it's all continuous. Like I said earlier, you have to be organized, so we were getting ready for yesterday starting in April by having meetings with coaches, making sure they were ready for the new year and that the fields would be too.

It really never ends- everyone gets excited for yesterday, but you were doing that three months ago to make sure everything was good to go. Now you are planning for the first contests in the beginning of September, next comes the playoffs and making sure winter sports are good to go.

You have to stay on schedule and pay attention to the calendar.

CSZ:Is there anything new or exciting on the horizon for Magruder Athletics?

KH:It's definitely going to be nice to have home games in a stadium again, having had to play two years away. To finally be able to play a home game for football, and to have our track teams run on a track that's new will be great. It feels great to finally be playing at home again.
August 11th, 2016By: Wick Eisenberg

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