By Katy Savage , Standard Staff
There’s a new Wardwell on the Woodstock Union High School-Middle School athletic fields.
Justin Wardwell started his new job as athletic director last Monday. He’ll join his father, Butch, the assistant varsity boys soccer coach, varsity baseball coach and middle school basketball coach and his sister, Blake, the new assistant field hockey coach.
Wardwell graduated from the school in 2008 and played varsity baseball for four years. He’ll be working side by side with former teachers and will be leading former coaches.
“It’s really odd to see them now as colleagues instead of teachers,” he said. “That’s going to take a little bit of getting used to.”
But Jason Tarleton, the varsity baseball coach who coached Wardwell, doesn’t think he’ll have problems adjusting.
“He’s got a lot of confidence, always has, he’s always been that type of kid,” Tarleton said.
He was the second baseman for the Woodstock team.
“He carried himself with a lot of pride and I think that rubbed off on a lot of his teammates,” Tarleton said. “Bringing pride into this kind of position is exactly what any school system is looking for, to instill that in its student body and I think Justin’s certainly going to do that.”
Wardwell worked as the athletic department at Western New England University, which he graduated from in 2012. He had been the parttime athletic director at Hartford Memorial Middle School for two years before coming to Woodstock.
“I’ve always been a part of this community,” he said.
Wardwell doesn’t anticipate the family connection will impact his job.
“It’s always been that way,” he said. “I don’t think anybody’s all that surprised that I want to be working here and that my sister also wants to be working in sports.”
Wardwell will take the position from Jeff Thomas who recently became the dean of students after three years at the athletic director. The move is one of a number of changes at the high school. Principal Greg Schillinger left the school recently to go to Rutland High School while former Assistant Principal Garon Smail stepped up to the principal role. Former Assistant Athletic Director Mike Jabour also moved on to Milton Academy for an athletic director position closer to home.
“It’s an opportunity to return back home where I grew up… It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Jabour said.
As of last week Woodstock still hadn’t hired a new assistant athletic director. Wardwell is getting schedules finalized for upcoming games. Thomas said he’ll mentor him this upcoming year.
“I was kind of worried that I would have to spend more time training him,” Thomas said. “He’s just taken the ball and ran with it.”
This will be Wardwell’s first time managing varsity sports.
“I love sports,” he said. “I’ve wanted to work in sports since forever and I figure this is the best way, if I can’t go pro and actually play baseball, I figure I can at least organize it.”
He wants to keep momentum building from previous years.
“The thing I’ve been hearing from the coaches is how great things have run the last couple years,” he said. “My plan is just to keep the things going.”
This story first appeared in the August 28, 2014 edition of the Vermont Standard.