Game days are long for Norwin athletic director
On a high school football Friday, Brandon Rapp is at the Norwin Knights Stadium. It’s 6:30 a.m. Kickoff is more than 12 hours away.
Rapp, Norwin’s athletic director, is at the North Huntingdon stadium about 20 minutes before the sunrise, checking on the status of preparations for a game that will not begin until 7 p.m.
He was “assisting with the maintenance crew, making sure they have everything they need to set up … that the press box is presentable and the media outlets that are coming have what they need and getting the booster tables set up,” Rapp said. “Hopefully, it’s a smooth operation from there.”
Among numerous pre-game activities he handles is making certain the ticket booths have enough tickets, game officials have reserved parking spaces, and that the head official’s microphone is working properly.
Preparation for each game starts early, Rapp said. “We put together a checklist at the beginning of the week. It’s two to three pages of things to get ready for.”
As kickoff nears, Rapp looks around at the crowd and proclaims, “You put 4,000 people in here and anything can happen.”
He has his people — about 20 to 25 — working the game in different capacities, from the clockkeeper to crowd control.
“It’s a full army that puts it on,” Rapp said.
Among the dozen or so people assigned to crowd control, some school principals are strategically stationed near the student cheering section, to make sure nothing gets out of hand.
As players go through pre-game drills, Rapp confers with Jeff Pritt, Norwin’s school police officer and a retired Greensburg officer.
During the game, Rapp roams the sidelines, going from either side of the field and up in the stands, talking to the principals monitoring the students.
“I try to be centrally located,” Rapp says.
When the game ends, his job doesn’t.
“Certainly, our first priority is to make sure that we get the teams and officials safely to their locker rooms and help spectators and the bands exit in an orderly fashion,” Rapp said.
Once the stadium empties, cleanup begins. Ticket booths have to be closed, radios must be collected from the staff and traffic cones have to be stored for the next home game.
“We typically we leave the stadium anywhere from 11 p.m. to midnight, depending on the circumstances,” Rapp said.
With all of the work required on game day, Rapp said he could not do it without Andrew Phipps, Norwin’s assistant athletic director; P.J. Petrarco, the district’s director of facilities and property services; and Jim Sage, custodial services supervisor.
“They are vital to the operation of the event. Their leadership and the dedication of the whole staff are what makes the event operate so smoothly,” Rapp said.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .