Athletic directors are kind of like referees in a way. When they're doing a good job they usually go unnoticed. But when things go wrong, they're the ones out front dealing with problems.

Whether it's the unavoidable postponing and rescheduling of games during bad weather or when there are issues with coaches, players or parents, a school's athletic director is the person who has to find solutions.

"Sometimes our job is thankless," said Stroudsburg's Beth Ross. "That's why ADs are such a tight-knit group. Because no one really knows what we do except each other."

One local athletic director has been doing a great job. And Ross noticed.

A few months back she nominated Northwestern's Jason Zimmerman for consideration as this year's Pennsylvania Region II Athletic Director of the Year award, given by the Pennsylvania State Athletic Directors Association.

The organization announced this week that Zimmerman was selected as this year's AD of the Year for Region II, which includes PIAA districts 2, 4 and 11.

"I was ecstatic," Zimmerman said. "I don't do things for awards. I'm fortunate to have good kids and good coaches and a good administration. I have a very suportive faimly. It's all about the people who surround me. "

Zimmerman, who's father Dale was a Parkland AD and is in the Trojan Sports Hall of Fame for his service, always wanted to follow in his father's footsteps. Ten years ago he got the opportunity at his alma mater, overseeing some of the same sports programs he was once a part of and working side-by-side with a few of his former coaches.

Working with coaches is a small part of what Zimmerman and other ADs do on a daily basis. Fans don't realize everything that goes into holding one high school sports event - coordinating scorekeepers, announcers, scoreboard opperators, ticket takers, security, concessions people, game managers, officials and transportation for away games.

And the biggest thing is making sure that everything is done with the best interest of the student-athletes in mind. That's something Zimmerman has never had a problem with.

"He's always about the kids," Ross said. "He always cares about doing the right thing for the kids. And he's not just always about Northwestern kids.

"He's just one of those people you're happy to have in your profession."

If all the daily tasks were not enough, Zimmerman, a certified athletic administrator, provides training and instruction to coaches and other ADs for the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association and for the American Sport Education Program, where he instructs four-hour seminars on different topics, according to John Bomboy, awards chairman for the PSADA.

"Jason has a go-get-them type of work ethic," Bomboy said. "He's a very deserving individual."

Zimmerman, who earned his master's degree from Ohio University and had his thesis published in the Interscholastic Athletic Administrator magazine, is even more active locally. He's a member of the District 11 committee, where he serves as the treasurer and as tournament director for Class AA wrestling. He has served on district committees for finance, television contract, football, wrestling, baseball and boys soccer. He's vice president of the Colonial League, chairperson of the league's field hockey committee and has served as the field hockey tournament director.

He does it all for one reason.

"I take my job very seriously," Zimmerman said. "I want to do what's best for my kids and my coaches."