The Tukwila School District’s new athletic director sees his job as more than helping coaches and athletes put points on a scoreboard.
He sees athletics as a way for young people to acquire the tools to succeed in school and life – honesty, integrity, hard work, determination and commitment.
And new AD Harvard Jones wants to give his coaches at Foster and Showalter the time, the equipment and the facilities they need to help students succeed.
“I hope to help them personally and professionally as we move on, so they can help the kids. That’s why we all work in education, is to help the kids,” said Jones, who began his new job in December.
Jones starts his job as the Seamount League is preparing to dissolve, with more details to come. But Foster has applied to join the KingCo League starting in fall 2016, according to Sara Niegowski, the Tukwila School District’s communications director.
Jones replaces interim athletic director Ammon McWashington, who for years coached at Foster before going to work for the Seattle School District in administrative positions.
The district’s last permanent athletic director was JD Hill, who left in May to become executive director of the Matt Griffin YMCA in SeaTac.
Jones grew up in Wisconsin, playing high school football and basketball, and graduated from the University of Florida. He worked for the Florida high school athletic association as an assistant director, running state tournaments.
Moving to Seattle, he was the assistant director of athletics for the Seattle School District, managing 20 middle schools, Metro League basketball and facilities.
In his previous jobs, Jones said he’s done a lot of “high-level administration.”
“What attracted me to this job was the chance to still be a high-level administrator but be able to connect with the kids and work closely with the coaches and the kids,” he said.
And the rewards of his work are visible every day, he says.
“Every day you get to see why you go to work every day. You get to help these young people build themselves up into successful adults and productive members of the community,” he said. “That’s what brought me here. I like that it’s a small diverse district.”
As athletic director, Jones will concentrate his effort on athletics at Foster and Showalter and managing the Performing Arts Center, the football stadium and fields.
Past athletic directors have also had roles in the transportation department.
Foster’s athletic program will benefit because of his background developing middle school programs, he said, saying it’s “easy to overlook the middle school.”
“The more attention you can give those middle school programs and the farther along they are at the middle school level, that’s what takes the high school programs to the next level,” he said.