A new top dog has been hired for the Empire Bulldogs. Rodney Lee has has been hired as the assistant principal/ athletic director for Empire Public Schools.
Lee officially started July 1 at Empire and has spent the first month getting used to being in the administrative role after many years as an official, coach and player.
“It’s exciting first of all. I have been around sports all my life including coaching, playing. To have the opportunity to be involved at this level or seeing it differently it is really exciting for me,” Lee said. “I have officiated football and basketball for many years so I have seen that side of it and now the administrative side is another opportunity for involvement and learning while being involved in sports.”
Empire Public Schools Superintendent Justin Smith made the hire when previous AD Marlon Gay decided to focus on retirement and his business and felt that Lee was a good fit for the district.
“We hired Mr. Lee because he has experience in Athletics having played in college. He has been a football and basketball official for years, and he is from the area so he has contacts and knowledge of the Empire programs,” Smith said. “Mr Lee expressed his ambition for promoting Empire Athletics and for improving the facilities as well. Mr. Lee has extensive knowledge as an administrator as well so he comes well prepared for the position. We as a community feel that Empire is on an upward swing in all areas of our athletics and look forward to the new era.”
The Bulldogs recently hired three new coaches and softball was handed over to Coach Jeff Pierce who was on staff as the head baseball coach.
Lee came in with the new hires and said one of the keys is creating an environment where stability in the top positions will be crucial for the success in Empire Athletics.
“The biggest thing is to try and bring stability to the programs because that is going to lend itself to greater success in each of the sports,” Lee said. “Getting the right people in place that can lead our student athletes and get them to stay to build a program while having success for the students, school and community.”
In his new role, Lee specified that he is just going to be there for support to the coaches and be a resource in his role as athletic director and he feels that is best to run a smooth program.
“I would be here for support because it is not my job to tell a coach how to coach, that is their job and that is what they were hired for,” Lee said. “They are going to have that leeway to do their job and I have no intention of telling the coach that they should run this play or you need to do this. That is not my job. I am going to be here as a resource and to support them to give them what they need to the best of my abilities and the capabilities of the school to have a successful program.”
Currently, Empire is competing in Class B for football and Class A in all of the other sports. Lee doesn’t want to come in and change things if they work and is excited to work at Empire.
“I want to take the things that have been done well and continue those while finding the things that need to be tweaked and making those adjustments so we can continue to be successful in all of our sports,” Lee said. “I’m not going to change things for the sake of change because if it’s working I want to keep it. We want to make subtle tweaks needed to make other parts successful and as time goes by I will find out what that has to be. It wasn’t laying on my desk when I came in that you need to fix this and this so it is a learning curve and a work in progress.”
The athletic season for Empire begins August 12 when football starts practice and softball has their first regular season game.