Lehighton Indians' head field hockey coach and athletic director Shawn Hindy may be headed for greener playing fields after the school board on Monday decided to not renew his contract and to open the AD position to new applicants.
Hindy was hired as head coach in 2006 to replace Sharon Elder, who retired. He was named athletic director at around the same time.
School board President David Krause on Tuesday said Hindy's contract was not renewed and the position opened because the board is "restructuring the position. Finances are tough and we have to look at every position."
Schools Superintendent James Kraky said that "part of it is that we're upgrading our programs. We're looking to realign some job responsibilities. The athletic director job is essentially morphing into facility planning duties and security duties, so we're expanding that role a little bit."
Hindy made about $47,000 a year as athletic director and about $4,100 as head coach, Krause said.
He said Hindy, who is a member of the United States Men's National field hockey team, is welcome to apply again for the athletic director's job "as long as he is still our field hockey coach."
Hindy's field hockey talent is a given, Krause said.
"There no question of his field hockey abilities – playing and coaching."
But Krause declined comment on Hindy's performance as athletic director.
"We're looking at the whole picture of where the district is going. We're trying to get more for less bodies out there because of the financial contraints we're under," he said. "It's a reorganization. We're looking at the structure of responsibilities - the whole picture."
Hindy told the TIMES NEWS this morning that he was disappointed and upset with the board's actions.
"I was at the board meeting, but I was really never told what was going on," said Hindy. "Opening the athletic director position wasn't on the agenda. It was just added in as an adendum and they breezed through it right at the end of the meeting.
"I never got a chance to speak. I just think the process and the way they handled this was completely wrong."
Hindy said that he heard the board has received some complaints about how he was handling the AD job, but he was never officially notified of any problems.
"I don't even know what the issues were," said Hindy. "I would have loved to hear them and defend myself against them.
"But I was never made aware of any specific problems. Only one board member (Larry Stern) even contacted me about the situation or asked for my side. I find that amazing."
Krause said that Stern, who is also president of the Lehighton Field Hockey Parents' Club, cast the sole opposing vote to opening the AD position.
Stern did not immediately return a telephone call to his home early Tuesday.
During Hindy's five years as field hockey coach, the Indians have been a perennial league, district and state power. In 2009, the team won Lehighton High School's first-ever PIAA State championship in any team sport. This past season, they returned to the state championship game, but fell in the title game.
During his five years as field hockey coach, Lehighton players have earned 10 Division I scholarships. Many other Indian players have gone on to play at the Division II and Division III level as well.
Last summer, Hindy traveled to Venezuela as part of the United States National Indoor Team.
In a story that ran in the TIMES NEWS on Nov. 2, Hindy was quoted as saying "I got things straightened out (with my athletic director position) because I wasn't going to get back until Aug. 16, which was the first day of the preseason (practice for fall sports teams). I was going to be missing a little. Being athletic director, I have all the sports doing things, but then also coaching the field hockey team, I would miss our first day of pre-season practice."
Hindy, a California native, began playing field hockey at 12. He joined the U.S. National Team in 1995, traveling to more than 35 countries during his playing days. Last month he was in Poland as part of the U.S.National team for the World Indoor Field Hockey Championships.
"I feel I did a great job as field hockey coach, but I think I did a great job at athletic director as well," said Hindy. "The kids in the school district were always my top priority and I think I had a positive effect on all the kids in the school, not just the field hockey players and the athletes.
"I can sleep well at night knowing that I had a positive effect on the kids in our school."
As far as what the future holds, Hindy said that he will more than likely pursue some other opportunties. He mentioned looking into some college coaching jobs as a possibility
"The board said I could re-apply for the AD position, but obviously they don't want me or they wouldn't have opened the position," Hindy said. "As far as the board saying I could still return as field hockey coach, they know that's impossible without the AD job. They know I can't stay here and live on a $4,000 a year field hockey salary."