Search for athletic director zeroes in on Dave Goetz

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

Sweet Home High School Assistant Principal Dave Goetz will become the new athletic director as Larry Johnson retires for the third time.

“I would tell you I’ve never left this building feeling like, ‘Man, I’m glad this is over,'” said Johnson, who returned to the high school last fall to fill the vacancy left by Steve Emmert’s move to another school district. “I love kids, the work. I still like it. I still like kids. They’re great. They keep you young.”

But after coming back temporarily twice after his official retirement, Johnson is doing it again. He plans to go back to New Orleans, where he has helped with recovery from Hurricane Katrina, and see people he met there as well as going back to work helping in the recovery effort. He also is planning to visit family in Georgia.

He is optimistic about Goetz, he said. “He’s had a year to sit back and observe things. He’s aware of our coaches, and he attends everything. He’s gained the respect of staff and students.”

When Johnson left last time, Emmert became athletic director, Johnson said, and he did an excellent job. Johnson thinks Goetz also will.

Goetz has previously been an athletic director.

“When you put whatever you have into a program, you want whoever’s coming in next to do that and more,” Johnson said. He’ll do it, and he’ll do some things better.

The bottom line is that he’ll be good for kids, Johnson said.

“As a retiring athletic director, I’d really like to thank the kids that get involved and stay in our programs,” Johnson said. He also thanks their parents for the support they give to ensure their kids can stay in the programs.

Johnson wishes he could get most students into programs, any programs, he said. “To get themselves involved in programs, it just reduces their problems. Ultimately, kids that make commitments continue to do this throughout life.”

“I said when I came to this district that I would do whatever the district wanted me to do,” said Goetz, who has primarily dealt with disciplinary issues this past year. “First and foremost, I’m here to help the kids” and after that, the district and community.

Goetz was involved in the interview process, he said, and the interviewers found that those who applied did not bring the combined skills of athletic director and administration.

“It’s really two full-time jobs,” Goetz said. “Having the knowledge of both is huge.”

After a year on the job in Sweet Home, Goetz is not planning on going anywhere now, he said.

“I think the community has been good and receptive to me (along with the students and staff). I enjoy working with people who enjoy their jobs, educating kids.

“I have probably heard the word ‘union’ maybe four times this year. In my previous position, it was not uncommon to hear the word ‘union’ four times a day,” said Goetz, who was an administrator at St. Helen’s High School prior to coming to Sweet Home.

Here, “we’re all equal,” he said. “We treat each other with respect, and are here to do our job – That’s to educate kids. I have not been in a district where the staff and kids are as respectful as they are here.”

Goetz is a newcomer to Sweet Home, but Sweet Home has made him feel “very, very welcome,” he said.

Goetz agreed with Johnson about student involvement in extra-curricular activities, he said. Athletics and extra-curricular activities, like choir, are huge. “It teaches kids so many lifelong skills you need to be successful.”

Among the many concepts it teaches are respect, dignity, teamwork, how to win and lose, trust, loyalty, dedication and much more, he said. “All of these things, if you think about it, you need for life.”

Students who participate in extra-curricular activities generally graduate, stay out of trouble and then go on to college, he said. “I’m talking about anything the school has to offer.”

It made a difference in his life, he said. “I got into it because of kids and the impact teachers and coaches had on my life.”

He sees the coaches of Sweet Home teaching the same values that he learned from his coach in high school in Roseburg, he said. “All of these guys are very dedicated individuals who would give everything they have for kids to be successful.”

Johnson was an icon among state high schools when Goetz was athletic director at Sutherlin, Goetz said. He is “very well respected and well thought of. The biggest fear I have is not being able to follow what he’s built here. Mr. Johnson is someone that has done nothing but positive things for this community.”

As he moves into the position, Goetz is unsure what if anything may change, he said. It will take him some time to evaluate the high school athletic program.

“A lot of things are working very well here,” Goetz said. “What I don’t want to do is get in the way of our coaches being successful. I’ve got to stay out of their way.”

Most importantly, he said, “I just want kids to get involved. I want them to feel they can be a huge part of the success in Sweet Home.”