GARDNER – The role of athletic director at Gardner-South Wilmington High School is being split between Angel Dallio and Chris Gibson as the 2013-14 school year begins.
Dallio is the girls AD for GSW, and Gibson is in charge of its boys athletic programs. The two officially succeed Kris Spiezio, who briefly took over as AD this summer. Spiezio was the initial choice to replace Shane Tucker, but a “change of heart,” said principal John Engelman, caused Spiezio to recently step down.
The resulting arrangement is relatively uncommon, but not unheard of, for an Illinois high school. According to information provided by IHSA assistant executive director Matt Troha, 33 of the IHSA’s nearly 800 member schools have athletic departments constructed in such a manner. Plainfield Central, Plainfield East and Joliet Catholic Academy are among those geographically nearest to the area.
“After we had one person opt not to take the position, we went to the next available people. One person had some time available early in the day and another had some time later on, so it just seemed to work best schedule-wise for those two people,” GSW Superintendent Michael Perrott said.
“We have 20 faculty members, and when you start looking at the logistics of what we do ... almost everyone has some extra duty, be it NHS or coaching or something else. At a smaller school, you’re sometimes pressed to find someone to do the next thing because so many positions need to be filled.”
GSW has employed two athletic directors simultaneously before, Perrott said. When he was first hired by the district in 1986, he says, Scott Ward was boys AD and Kathy Kaler was girls AD.
Dallio and Gibson bring different backgrounds into the athletic office. He is in his first year on the GSW faculty but has been an AD – and part of a similarly split athletic department – before, at Midland High School. Dallio is a 14-year veteran at GSW but has no experience in athletic administration.
“I think that the 50-50 split has been a fantastic arrangement as Angel and I have been working very well together on the tasks that need to be taken care of to have a high-quality athletic program,” Gibson said. “Angel and I are both very organized people and so I believe this will be a great partnership.”
A Chicago native, Dallio was on the track and field team while attending Queen of Peace High School, an all-female private school in Burbank. Her competitive athletic career did not extend into college, which included stops at St. Xavier University and Eastern Illinois University, from which Dallio received her bachelor’s degree in 1999. She also earned a master’s degree in administration from Aurora University in 2009.
GSW is the only school for which Dallio has worked. She teaches art and Web design, and she is now the academic services coordinator. In the past, she has coached the GSW cheerleaders and Pantherettes as well as the track and field team at Braceville Elementary School.
“I feel I have the skills necessary to make GSW athletics run smoothly. It allows me a chance to try a more administrative role within the district,” Dallio said. “I have not been on the administrative side before but am looking forward to my new role. As far as preparing for the role, I have a list of new ideas that I would like to try. Chris and I have been working well together to share the duties.”
Gibson is no stranger to area athletics. He was briefly an assistant boys basketball coach at Coal City High School in the late 1990s, and he was head boys basketball coach at Dwight High School from 2009-10 through 2011-12.
Gibson is also no stranger to athletic administration. During his first job in education, at Midland High School from 1998 to 2002, one of Gibson’s duties was to handle one gender’s worth of the athletic administrative duties at Midland High School. He was also AD at Clinton High School during the 2012-13 school year.
A Coal City native, Gibson had already returned to the area and was preparing for the school year as a business teacher and the head boys basketball coach at GSW when Spiezio resigned. It was not a chance he wanted to pass up.
“I thoroughly enjoy the organizational aspect of being an athletic administrator. The camaraderie between myself and other ADs as well as officials is also something that I enjoy,” Gibson said.
“The one person who I owe the most to as far as my developing a passion for athletic administration is (former Coal City High School AD) Mr. (John) Cullick, who was one of the most exceptional ADs in our area and even throughout the state. He showed a level of commitment to developing respectable athletic programs that has stayed with me through all of these years, and he did so through good old-fashioned hard work.”
Not only are the GSW ADs in charge of the school’s own athletic programs – baseball, basketball and cross country for boys; basketball, cross country, competitive cheerleading, competitive dance, softball and volleyball for girls – they serve as liasons for co-ops in which the school participates. GSW students may join Dwight teams in boys and girls golf, football, wrestling and boys and girls track and field, and may play for Reed-Custer in boys and girls soccer.
“I believe my biggest responsibility is making sure that our athletes and coaches are doing their best to be good representatives of our school and our community,” Gibson said. “I can already tell that we have very dedicated and compassionate coaches, both on the boys and girls side, who want to see our kids succeed, and it will be a great pleasure working with them in the coming years.”
Dallio says she does not anticipate making many major changes, at least not soon.
“I have a lot of respect for Shane Tucker, and I feel he was a great athletic director,” Dallio said. “I have a lot of confidence in our coaches this year, and we will see how things go.”