Athletic director plans to retire after school year, pursue hobbies

Jordan McEntee, Sports Editor

He stands on the sidelines with his arms folded across his chest. The team makes a good play. He smiles and claps.
The athletes know he’s there supporting them. He always is.
Athletic director Bob Whitehead has been at BV for 25 years and plans to retire after this school year.
Whitehead taught history at BV from 1979 to 1986. He then went to BV North at its opening and BV Northwest after that. Whitehead returned to BV in 1995.
“I think it’s the best job I’ve ever had,” he said. “The best thing that ever happened to me was coming to Blue Valley as the athletic director.”
Whitehead said his favorite part about his job is spending hours watching high school games every night.
“I enjoy going to the games, meeting the parents, just being out in the com- munity and watching the kids,” he said. “That’s about the only way you have to let the student athletes know that you care — to go to their games. It’s kind of like being a grandparent. I can go to the games, and I hate it when we lose, but I still love the kids.”
Whitehead’s job has allowed him to travel around the country for various events.
“I’ve gotten to travel all over — wherever our team’s been,” he said. “I got involved in the State Athletic Direc-
tors Association, and I’ve also gotten to go to some national meetings
in San Antonio, New Or- leans twice and San
Diego.”
Whitehead’s job entails both administrative and scheduling duties.
“It’s really like I have two jobs,” he said. “As an assistant principal you have teacher evaluations, discipline and those kinds of activities. Then the other part of the job is being Athletic Director. And in that role, you’re really responsible for the entire athletic program.”
The job includes hiring coaches and keeping the school calendar up to date. Whitehead said he has always enjoyed doing behind-the-scenes work.
“I try to facilitate from here — be in the background and take care of whatever needs to be done,” he said. “I want our teams and our coaches to be the focal point of our school and our activities.”
He said he faces challenges with staying motivated for all the games, but knows the athletes appreciate it.
“The hardest thing is if we lose in football on Friday night, and I go to volleyball on Saturday — I have to be up and enthusiastic about volleyball,” he said. “I think most students know that I care about what’s going on in their program.”
Whitehead decided to retire because of minor health problems and many years in education.
“This is the 45th year that I’ve been in education,” he said. “That’s a long time. And there have been a couple health issues — not real, real serious — but they have made it more difficult for me to do the job the way I want to do it.”
Whitehead said his pride lies in how far the school has come athletically and academically.
“There was a great school here before I came, and there’s going to be a great school here after I’m gone,” he said. “Last year, we were in the top three in the state in 13 different events and also had the second highest ACT scores in the metro area. I’m really proud of that.”
Senior Maddie Garton said Whitehead has always been very supportive of her and her softball team.
“He is literally the nicest guy ever,” she said. “I’ll see him in the hallway, and he’ll be like, ‘How’s life?’ or ‘How’s softball?’ He comes to all the games, and he genuinely cares about me as a person and as a player.”
Whitehead said he will never forget the community atmosphere at BV.
“I’m really going to miss the relationships with the students and staff, going to the games on Friday nights and interacting with the parents,” he said. “There’s a very hectic pace that you have in this job. You just kind of go from one thing to another. It’s the greatest job in the world. I don’t even know how to describe it.”
Garton said the student-athletes will always remember Whitehead and how much he really wanted to be a part of their lives.
“I want to say thank you so much for all his kindness and support,” she said. “He really has made an impact on my high school softball career and my time here at BV.”
A decision is still being made about who will replace Whitehead next school year.
“We have some younger coaches in our school that a lot of people respect who have some interest,” he said. “I hope that they’ll be given an opportunity. When you’re a new person coming with new ideas, there will be new, good things that come with that. I hope that some of our traditions will continue.”
Whitehead plans to pursue other hobbies with his new free time.
“I’m certainly going to miss it,” he said. “But I have six grandchildren, and I need to be able to go watch them play sports. I also bought a used bass boat, and I’ve always been a bird hunter, so I’ll be outdoors. I’m excited for that.”
Whitehead said he will never stop loving Tiger athletics.
“I will always be checking the sports page to see how the Tigers are doing,” he said. “I’ll be looking for how the Tigers do on Friday night. I’ll always be watching for that.”