BY JEFF FALK
Terri Johnston wasn’t unhappy in her new position as the Lebanon school district’s athletic director. She just figured she could be more happy doing something else.
It’s safe to say that being the Cedars AD wasn’t exactly what Johnston thought it might be. None of us know what a new job is going to entail until we wear the hat.
On Monday, Johnston finalized her decision to resign her position as LHS’ athletic director. On Wednesday, she informed the Cedar coaching staff of her decision.
Johnston, a long-time coach and teacher at Lebanon High School, had held the position for exactly one year. She had replaced Bill Giovino, who is now a principal in the district.
“The position was different than I thought it would be,” said Johnston. “Having coached 22 years, I had a sense of what goes on (in being an AD). I go to games anyways. To me it wasn’t a big deal to be there as an athletic director. But I have to be there.
“Everybody’s sport is the most important one to them,” Johnston continued. “Because of the learning curve, I rarely left my office before 5 (p.m.), and then I’m trying to get to a game. I was slower than someone who has been doing it for a while. It’s an endless job. There’s no down time.”
A vacancy in Johnston’s old academic department, health and physical education, provided her an opportunity to step aside. Johnston said she would like to get back into coaching, sometime in the future, when a position in her fields of athletic expertise open up.
“They had an opening in our department,” said Johnston, a graduate of Lebanon High. “I had to do some powerful soul searching. I’m hoping to get back into coaching. But I didn’t hire myself yet. Currently, there are no openings in the sports I have coached. But I just like being around.”
“I’m very much at peace with it,” Johnston continued. “You make your own way in life.”
For the better part of two decades, Johnston has coached field hockey, girls’ basketball and softball – on varying levels – for the Cedars. During her time, no one has had a greater influence on female athletics at Lebanon than Johnston.
“I felt like I had a pretty good idea of what the job entailed,” said Johnston. “But until you wear the shoes you really don’t know. Ultimately my goal wasn’t to be an administrator. I felt as an AD, I would be able to interact with the kids more.
“I miss being in the class room,” Johnston added. “I miss the kids. There were other circumstances, but ultimaely I’m in it for the kids.”
Johnston and her husband reside in the Lebanon area, and they are parents to two teenaged girls.
“That’s where the rubber meets the road,” said Johnston of the strain long hours places on her family. “We talked about it as a family when I took the job. I’m out of the house anyway. To me, the big difference was that it was now part of my job.
“There wasn’t a lot of time for cleaning the house,” added Johnston. “All of that stuff you’ve got to consider. I definitely had a sense of it (the job), but now I’ve had it for a year. I had to ask myself, ‘Is this what I want to do?’ I feel like I’m an effective teacher.”
Johnston, along with Annville-Cleona’s Karen Evans, are believed to be the only two females to have held the position of athletic director in Lebanon County.
“I don’t have any reason that they’re (LHS sports) not (overall healthy),” said Johnston. “They’ve (the administration) never come to me and said they don’t like things the way they are. My emphasis is not on wins.
“I feel kids get more out of athletics just because they’re part of something bigger than themselves,” added Johnstson. “That’s important, especially given our demographics. Our coaches put our kids first, and hopefully we win some games along the way. Our administration has never made decisions based on wins and losses.”
With participation in a few sports near all-time lows, Lebanon High has struggled on the athletic fields recently.
“Certainly we’d like to have more kids involved,” said Johnston. “Every school would. Our kids are hit a little bit harder by economics. We try to make it possible for our kids to play. We’re doing everything to get the kids involved. But some of them just say, ‘I’ve got to work.’
“I’m happy with the kids who are participating, but we’d like to have more,” Johnston concluded. “We have a lot of kids whose familes are expecting them to contribute financially.”