By Chris Chaney
A new era is underway at Bethel-Tate High School as Joe Sumpter assumed the role of athletic director, replacing Brian Cunningham. Sumpter will also act as dean of students.
“I was looking for a position down this way about midsummer,” Sumpter explained. “My family and I, we had lived in Monroe about half way between Cincinnati and Dayton and my wife was working (in Cincinnati) — she’s actually from Bethel — so I saw this one come available and applied.
“I was really interested in getting involved because I know that Bethel hasn’t really been considered a powerhouse athletically. As I’ve been going through the interview process, I got a real sense that the people here would like that to change and make that a focus. They do so well academically here, but that’s only part of the puzzle when it comes to a high school or a district. They want to make that push and I like a challenge.
“I’m hoping to bring some of my experience from a much bigger school and a very successful athletic program— all the way down to the youth level —down here to Bethel.”
Sumpter comes to Bethel by way of Huber Heights Wayne, his alma mater. While at Wayne as an assistant football coach to AD Jay Minton, Sumpter padded his science and education degree from the University of Miami with a master’s in educational leadership from the University of Dayton.
Hoping to parlay that master’s into an administrative position, Sumpter was happy to take over the dual role at Bethel. His first orders of business were to implement a few new ideas that he has developed over his short time in his new position.
“I think it really starts with getting the community excited, getting the community’s support and getting them involved,” Sumpter said. “Without having fans coming out or parents supporting their kids, it’s tough to get kids to play and fund the teams, too.
“Funding, on a state and national level, is being more and more allocated to the academic side of things with so many more requirements coming out, which leaves athletic budgets getting slashed left and right. So, going out and forming business partnerships with local owners and corporations and finding ways that we can benefit both of us to provide some more support for the kids is important.”
Another idea Sumpter wants to incorporate is the use of social media. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have exploded over the past few years, he explained, and regardless of how some administrators want to try to quell it, the students are going to use those outlets.
The new AD said that instead of trying to limit that usage, he wants to embrace these futures of communication so that the kids can promote their teams and events.
Along with using social media, Sumpter said he would like to harness that power by helping the kids to better understand how to use the medium responsibly so that they can publicize themselves and their teams in the best possible light.
“Another thing I want to incorporate is a student athletic council,” Sumpter said. “Every school has a student council, but I want to form one just made up of athletes to come up with new ways to get the rest of the kids in the schools involved and excited about sports.”
Finally, Sumpter said that what he has seen make programs he’s been associated with in the past successful is a strong feeder system. He wants coaches who have success to share their best practices and tendencies to create a solid system from the ground up.
After just a few weeks on the job, Sumpter said his introduction to the athletic staff has been incomplete with school out of session. However, he said he’s excited for the scholastic year to begin so he can interact not only with his coaches, but also the student-athletes that will be donning the red and white during the fall season.