New Highlands AD has passion for position
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A mellow-mooded realist who toils in positivity and doesn't fear failure, Chuck Debor is more concerned with the frame than the big picture as he begins his second go-round as the athletic director at Highlands.
Debor isn't out to change the landscape of Golden Rams sports, but rather mend them where necessary. A nip here. A tuck there. Worn tread on two tires doesn't mean the department needs four new wheels.
“You can't worry about things you can't control,” said Debor, 52, who replaced Matt Bonislawski, Highlands' AD since 2007. “I don't think anything needs changed, but there are some things that I'd like to help get improved.”
With the position shifting to part-time and now requiring a teaching certificate — which took Bonislawski out of the race and gave him little say-so in the matter — one might expect the new AD to appear at events with the regularity of a hummingbird. But Debor, once the school's AD from 1992-95, plans to be around. A lot. With greater attention to detail.
“It's a part-time name but a full-time position,” said Debor, a long-time gym teacher at the high school. “I want to be at events. I have a vested interest in this place. I went to school here. I am a Ram for life and don't plan on leaving. I'm having too much fun.”
Debor thought Bonislawski did a commendable job, that he handled the office with the same cool and poise he did as a quarterback at Connecticut.
“There wasn't a change in ADs because of the state of the programs,” Debor said. “The job position changed. I coached (Bonislawski). I've always admired the kid. It's unfortunate the position changed. I love ‘Bones.' ”
In the past, when Bonislawski was serving as an assistant coach in football, Debor served as game manager at home games, giving him some oversight of a larger-scale event.
Debor was the AD when Highlands won the WPIAL basketball championship 1995. When he didn't have nearly as much success as football coach at the school, the board saw fit to let him go.
“I was fired as football coach when I was 32 years old,” Debor said. “So I quit as AD. I didn't feel comfortable advising coaches after I got fired myself. Although I do remember (former Highlands football coach and AD) Tim Karrs telling someone, ‘He didn't get fired because he couldn't coach. He got fired because he didn't win.' That stuck with me.”
Asked how much he thinks the AD position has changed in 19 years, Debor slapped technology squarely on its wrist.
“The job itself hasn't changed much,” he said. “It used to be done on paper, now it's all on computers. That's a big transition to make. Schedules and setting up game officials is all done by email. I'm a dinosaur. I'd rather write it down than type it in Microsoft Word.”
As for the aforementioned improvements, Debor thinks those will start with a heavier piggy bank.
“I'd like to start more fundraising for the program,” he said. “Coaching is the same as the classroom. You want to provide the best possible environment for a student to learn. In sports, you want to provide the best possible facilities possible so the kids can succeed.”
Debor said maintenance attention needs paid to the aging football stadium and a baseball field that requires “more than cutting the grass.” And add fixes to a basketball floor that's lost its squeak and lighting “that is not up to standards.”
With his two daughters growing up fast — Cassie is a senior at Highlands, and Hannah is set to begin eighth grade in the district — Debor thinks work and family still can get equal time.
His wife, Sue, also a Highlands grad, supported the rekindle of her husband's job.
“When the job was advertised, she told me I should apply,” he said.
Debor, a former assistant football coach at Freeport and Highlands, both times under Sam Albert, plans to seek advice from former athletic director Bill Heasley, who also worked in a part-time capacity.
“Bill's great,” Debor said. “I know I can count on him to guide me a little and he can help with areas where I have questions.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.
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