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Norwin picks Rapp as new athletic director

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013, 9:39 a.m.

For the second time in less than a month, Norwin has a new athletic director.

The district's board of school directors voted, 6-0, last week to hire Derry athletic director Brandon Rapp to replace Randy Rovesti, who retired in June.

The vote came after the previously named replacement, North Catholic athletic director Mike Burrell, resigned before officially beginning his full-time work at Norwin. Before taking the job at North Catholic prior to the 2012-13 school year, Burrell worked as an assistant athletic director under Rovesti for more than two years at Norwin.

“We were very disappointed (in Burrell's resignation), because it was a long process, a very thorough process,” Norwin superintendent William Kerr said. “We believe we have a very fair and impartial process whereby (in) this case the athletic council, which is comprised of board members and administrators, conducted interviews of 11 candidates.

“ ... The board, after it received the resignation of Mr. Burrell, decided that they wanted to continue with the interview process. So they brought back four candidates, and Brandon Rapp was selected as the candidate of choice.”

Kerr said Burrell, who would have made $55,000 as athletic director at Norwin, decided to stay at North Catholic when the North Side parochial school made him another offer. Norwin's school directors voted to hire Burrell at a meeting June 19.

Rapp, who will make $68,000 at Norwin, was in the top tier of original candidates before Burrell was named athletic director, Kerr said.

Rapp, 27, comes to Norwin after spending three years as athletic director at Derry.

“Certainly the first reaction is just I'm very excited, honored and just looking forward to the opportunity and looking forward to meeting everyone at Norwin and getting started,” Rapp said. “At the same time, I've made a lot of close friends and met a lot of great people at Derry.

“Bittersweet may be the best word — (I'm) excited to be at Norwin, but at the same time, knowing I'm leaving a great school district and a great community at Derry.”

Before his time at Derry, Rapp spent two years as football coach at Redbank Valley. The 2008 Slippery Rock graduate, a native of Knox in Clarion County, also previously worked as assistant football coach at Keystone Area High School and as a director at the Clarion County YMCA.

“Brandon Rapp, with his three years' experience, has an in-depth understanding and working knowledge of the WPIAL and PIAA rules and regulations,” Kerr said. “I think another factor beyond his experience is ... we want somebody who can effectively communicate to not only our student-athletes and coaches but also parents. The athletic director is the face of the community, and he is the goodwill ambassador for our sports and recreation programs.”

While Rapp served as director of athletics and transportation at Derry, he won't be required to do both at Norwin. The district recently shifted the responsibility of managing day-to-day transportation to Rod Stewart, director of food services and nutrition, although Rapp will still oversee athletic transportation.

Rapp will oversee more sports programs at Norwin (24) than he did at Derry (19), but he said he's ready for the challenge of leading a bigger athletic department.

“Although there are more sports and more student-athletes, I view my role as a support role,” Rapp said. “We all have to work together within the athletic department — all of the programs and the coaches and so forth. Whether we're working with one athletic program or 24 athletic programs, I still feel that it's my role to support everybody involved and make sure I provide the best opportunities for our athletes and our coaches to succeed.”

An official start date for Rapp isn't yet known. With the fall athletic season beginning Aug. 12, however, Rapp and the district would like to make the date as early as possible.

In the meantime, Norwin's school directors named girls soccer coach Jeff Palm as interim athletic director to oversee some of the summer recreational programs.

“Certainly the timing of everything (is important),” Rapp said. “I want to get to Norwin and get things moving quickly. ... Certainly there's a lot to be done in a short amount of time. But Mr. Rovesti and the entire staff over there, I'm sure they have things in good shape. At the same time, I want to be respectful of those at Derry and don't want to leave things in a bad situation over there, either.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830, via email at or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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