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New Deer Lakes AD brings wealth of experience

There was a changing of the guard last week at Deer Lakes High School.

Ron Busby of Moon Township took over as the school district's athletic director, replacing Jan McDowell, who retired on June 30.

With nine years in the position, McDowell helped open the door to many other women athletic directors in western Pennsylvania such as Amy Norris at Burrell and Plum graduate Amy Williamson at Bethel Park.

Outside the WPIAL, DuBois and Brookville high schools have women ADs.

McDowell also coached softball for the Lancers in the 1990s and has been a PIAA basketball officials evaluator. She also coached field hockey at Eastern Michigan, Pitt, Carnegie Mellon and Ohio University.

For the immediate future, McDowell plans to be a doting grandmother and officiate collegiate and high school field hockey in the fall.

"I wish Ron success; I hope he has a great year," McDowell said. "Deer Lakes is a great place to work."

McDowell recently returned from Nebraska where she watched her niece, Allison Schmitt, 18, of Canton, Mich., qualify for the Olympics in swimming.

Busby arrives at Deer Lakes with impressive credentials. He served as athletic director for Harrison Central High School in Hopedale, Ohio, west of Steubenville. He also taught computer technology and business education.

At Deer Lakes, his position will be considered an administrative post, a departure from the old format where McDowell taught several classes during the school day. Busby also has certification as a principal.

"I think right now the goals are to establish lines of communication with everyone first and foremost, especially the coaches and the booster clubs," Busby said.

In football, Busby most recently served two seasons as defensive coordinator at East Liverpool High School, just across the state line from Beaver County. He also was the head football coach at Bridgeport (Ohio) High School.

Busby holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Ohio University and a master's in educational administration from Franciscan University in Steubenviile. He did postgraduate work at Robert Morris.

"I feel I'll bring a unique perspective to the job as a former coach, AD, teacher and administrator," Busby said.

The most interesting job on Busby's resume was his stint as recreation coordinator for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections at Nobel Correctional Institute.

"That gave me great organizational skills," Busby said with a laugh. "You're dealing with 4,000 incarcerated people who need something to do. You needed to always update programs."

Busby never head of Deer Lakes before applying for the athletic director job. He was thoroughly impressed with the football stadium and track upon his arrival.

"It's definitely a plus," Busby said. "It's something the community can definitely take pride in. We're looking for some good things from our football program."

Busby experienced all sorts of field surfaces while coaching in Ohio, from facilities at Youngstown Ursuline to Canfield to Steubenville.

The new Deer Lakes athletic director will first have to dodge construction materials and workers daily as the high school is undergoing a $39 million renovation.

Busby feels he will have one major advantage with the designation of his job as an administrative position: to allow the middle school athletes to have a seamless transition to senior high athletics.

Now all Busby needs is a seamless way to get to his office with all the construction going on.


George Guido is a Valley News Dispatch scholastic sports correspondent. His column appears Wednesdays.

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