Ask the AD - Dave Lanham, Severna Park 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 Dave Lanham from Severna Park High School in Anne Arundel County! Dave spoke with us about a variety of topics, including the career path he took which led to him becoming the AD at Severna Park in 2014.

Picture with Lil and David

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

Dave Lanham:I started my career as a PE teacher and coach at Archbishop Spalding. The AD there was Lee Dove at that time and he encouraged and inspired me to get into athletic administration. I completed my master's in Athletic Leadership and Admin. at Goucher College, while working under Lee as an assistant AD.

In 2002, I was hired as the AD at St. Mary's High School in Annapolis. From there, I got an opportunity to get into AACPS and left to become the AD at Meade High School. After six years at Meade, the Severna Park AD job opened up and I was hired.

I was really interested in the Severna Park job because I could be involved in the planning of the new school construction. The new school is scheduled to open in December of this year, and the outdoor athletic complex in March of 2018.

CSZ:How has the job changed since you became an athletic director?

DL:Player safety, liability and paperwork. Concussion awareness, baseline training, return to play, return to learn, county/state concussion laws, limiting the number of hitting day in football and lacrosse, and the heat acclimatization period are some of the new safety concerns/rules that have been implemented over the last five years.

As an AD, you are constantly thinking about liability; it's the root of a number of decisions we make daily. A perfect example of this last week was the alterations we made to practice times due to the heat. We have a county policy that involved heat index, however most AD's made practice modifications or cancellations before being told we had to. Why? Player safety and liability.

Another change is the requirements for coaches and AD's continue to grow. Coaches need CPR, concussion, heat acclimatization, care and prevention, fingerprinting, processing etc. AD's need CAA or CMAA certification. As AD's, we are being asked to do more and more each year. In turn, more is being asked of coaches each year as well.

CSZ:What do you enjoy most about your job?

DL:Mentoring coaches and watching student-athletes grow from year to year. I also get satisfaction in knowing that I give my best effort every day to our athletes, parents, coaches and school staff members.

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

DL:Organization, communication, people skills and hiring quality coaches are the four most important keys in my opinion.

CSZ:Severna Park is a school that has a history of teams making deep playoff runs. When you have a team making a deep postseason run and going to states, what is the atmosphere like around the school? How does the athletic department try to enhance that atmosphere?

DL:You can tell when we are playing for a region or state championship because there's a buzz around the school. As the AD, I like to address the team briefly during the practice before a championship game. It gives me an opportunity to share some insight and let the players know how proud I am of them.

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

DL:Overall, very good. In terms of wins and losses, as well as county, region and state championships, we did very well.

More importantly to me though is how we represented the school and Anne Arundel County as an education-based athletic program. Believe it or not, one of the highlights of my year was getting an email from a Broadneck parent (our county rival) after a basketball game they hosted. She emailed to tell me how impressed she was with our girls varsity basketball team for helping the Broadneck staff clean up the chairs and bench area after their game. Of course I enjoyed the field hockey, unified tennis and boys lacrosse state championships, but those are the types of things I like to see from our players and coaches.

CSZ:When considering a potential candidate for a coaching position, what do you look for?

DL:Passion, dedication, knowledge, goals and vision. I want to hire someone who's as passionate about coaching as I am about being an AD. You can teach X's and O's, but it's hard to teach passion.

CSZ:MPSSAA sports started up last week. What does the start of a new season bring for an AD?

DL:Excitement, optimism, catching up with student-athletes and staff members, new coaches.

CSZ:Anything exciting or new on the horizon for Severna Park Athletics?

DL:The most exciting part of Severna Park Athletics right now is moving into a new building in December, and the completion of the athletic complex in March of 2018.
August 16th, 2016By: Wick Eisenberg

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