Rome City Schools officials are making a move they hope will greatly improve not just their athletic programs across the board, but also every facet of the system.
Rome High football coach John Reid has now been given the position of director of athletics for the system. He will continue to serve as Rome’s football coach.
“Our reasoning is this,” explained Lou Byars, interim superintendent. “Our letterhead proclaims that we have quality academics, athletics and arts. We want to fulfill that motto. We saw what can happen when a football team succeeds this year and we want to have that success in all of our programs.”
Rome won the state title game over Buford and brought home the silver cup in the first state championship for the high school in its 25 years in December. City and county-wide support for the team buoyed school spirit greatly, Byars said.
“A lot of people are asking what we can do for our other sports, both for the girls and boys teams,” he said. “If we are serious about offering our students quality in all areas, we need to make some changes across the board.”
Byars said he and board of education members agree that an effort to improve athletics will improve academics and arts as well, not take away from them.
“Coach Reid has a great deal of experience building programs like this, which he’s demonstrated with the changes he’s made in the last two years,” Byars said.
Reid said the influence of academics, athletics and arts is known as the “triple A effect.”
“No one piece is more important than the other,” he said. “I dream of a school where everyone engages in athletics or the arts.”
Athletic programs can improve student performance in the classroom, he added.
Reid has already met with every coach in the system, discussing a game plan to improve the system’s athletics.
“We want to engage the community,” he explained. “We saw what happened with football. All of Rome got together and supported the school.”
Five things will be key to improving Rome’s athletics, he said.
“We must improve our facilities,” Reid said. “We have a wonderful stadium, but we must improve our practice fields, for example. We must have the support of the board of education and the superintendent and the administrators, which we do.”
Reid said he also plans to retain and hire quality coaches to continue to grow different sports programs.
“I want to have project builders and self-starters,” he said. “We also need good athletes. We have kids that can perform at a high level. We also need to develop feeder programs from the elementary and middle schools.”
Byars said because the system is looking at budgets and also planning for the next education local option sales tax that could go on the ballot in November, that this is the perfect time to make this position a reality.
“We are not talking about taking money away from one program to do this,” he said. “We are talking about using our money in an intelligent manner and making improvements.”
Reid said the move will improve the local economy as well.
“You have to understand that when families look at a county or city, they look at the triple As,” he said. “Say a student comes in who is a volleyball player, if she looks at the school and sees that it doesn’t have a strong program, she won’t want to attend that school.”
Rome High has many strong qualities, he added. “We have tremendous SAT scores, teachers who are strong and focused, a great stadium, a wonderful band program,” he said. “Improving our athletics will just add to this. Rome is a great school.”
While Reid will get a raise to go with this promotion, no final figure has been named yet, Byars said.
“We are still discussing the details of that,” Byars said. “However, it will be in line with what other high school football coaches and athletic directors get across the state.”