Mike Schmidt, Fairfield teacher, coach and high school athletic director, received the 2016-17 Class B Athletic Director of the Year Award from the Montana Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association.
The award, selected by a small panel of athletic directors from all school classifications, was announced at the Montana High School Association annual meeting in Bozeman in January.
A Fairfield native, Schmidt graduated from Fairfield High School in 1986 and then from the University of Montana with an education degree. He taught at Victor High School and was the assistant girls basketball coach, head boys basketball coach, activities director and track coach there from 1993-2002. Since 2003, he has taught at Fairfield High School. In addition to being the activities director, Schmidt is the high school track coach, a position he has held for 16 years, the junior high boys basketball head coach for 15 years and was the head high school boys basketball coach for four years.
“This is one of those awards that is given to an individual but really takes a large group to win,” Schmidt said. “Supportive coaches, the maintenance, secretarial and teaching staffs and administrators all have to work together for an athletic department to truly be successful. One individual cannot do this job and be successful.”
Schmidt said the District 1B has one of the best activities director groups in the state. “Mona Sunchild, Mike White, Don Paulsen, John Shepherd, Wendi Hammond, Ken Larson and Jim Carroll have all been great to work with, to learn from and to have as friends,” Schmidt said. “They have made being an activities director in Fairfield much easier.”
Schmidt said he wears a lot of hats connected to the activities director position. He lists scheduling, game preparation, gender equity issues, evaluation, hiring and supervising all of the coaches, conflict resolution and MHSA compliance as some of the duties.
For a number of years, Schmidt has also taken an interest in videoing activities. This consumes a lot of time but he knows his efforts and the students’ and volunteers’ time is appreciated by those who can’t attend or live out of the area.
Over the years he has been the school AD there have been many changes, the biggest of which is now doing everything online. “Schools now do everything from all-conference nominations to scheduling,” he said. “The online system makes it easier in some ways and takes more time in other ways.”
Serving as a coach does help Schmidt in knowing what coaches need, what actually helps them and the understanding of rules.
Schmidt thanked Fairfield Superintendent Les Meyer for being supportive of his wearing of multiple hats. “Almost on a daily basis, Les asks me what he can do to help me,” Schmidt said. “This is an important component to me being named activities director of the year.”
Another aspect of being considered for the honor is how supportive the Fairfield community is of the school, Schmidt said. “As everyone in athletics knows ... it is not just the individual but the people that surround the individual and in my case this is even more true,” he said.