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Revered program – Moffatt proves a thinking man’s athletic director

A few years back I was at Kennedy to report on a Class 2A baseball playoff game. The Trojans won easily, and I figured it would be just a few minutes before coach Kevin Moffatt would be done talking with his team and I could interview people.

I waited. And waited some more. The huddle in the outfield appeared to break up and I approached Moffatt. He told me they had a couple more things to talk about. So they gathered again near home plate. And I waited some more.

As the years passed the waits continued, but as I grew to know Moffatt better, I came to the conclusion that he must be saying something of value given the results he keeps getting. His baseball teams have won two consecutive Class 2A-1A titles. He also won in 2012 and JFK finished second two other times.

JFK athletic director and baseball coach, Kevin Moffatt James Day
JFK athletic director and baseball coach, Kevin Moffatt James Day

As athletic director for the past 19 seasons his program has won the OSAA Cup six times in the past eight years. The trophy covers athletics, academics and sportsmanship. Academics? Talk to Moffatt for 15 minutes and he is sure to mention that one of the things he is most proud of is that virtually all of the Trojans’ teams average 3.0 or better. Usually a lot better.

Moffatt’s program also is expanding, an anomaly in these tight budget times, particularly at a small school. In recent years the Trojans have added swimming, wrestling and soccer. Why? Moffatt says that research shows kids who are involved in after-school activities tend to get better grades.

Moffatt was named athletic director of the year for Class 2A and for small schools overall (1A, 2A and 3A) at the Oregon Athletic Directors Association annual conference last month at Sunriver. Moffatt also was honored as the 2A winner in 2014.

Rachel Stucky, the superintendent of the Mt. Angel School District, provided a letter of support for Moffatt. She noted in an interview with Our Town that in evaluating Moffatt “it’s much more than just sports. It’s about producing better human beings, making them better people. He’s the epitome of developing student success. Every year he goes above and beyond.”

Steve Ritchie, the veteran track and field and cross country coach at Kennedy, predates Moffatt.

“Moff has been a great boss for me because his priority is always the kids and what is best for them,” Ritchie told Our Town. “Obviously he is a great baseball coach – his record attests to that. But his most outstanding quality is that he cares about our students and makes decisions based on that. He does things the right way.

“In addition, he doesn’t micromanage his coaches. He shows a lot of trust in us and always seeks our opinion when there is an issue that affects one of our teams. I have always felt respected and listened to.”

Moffatt will be the first to tell you that he inherited a terrific set of coaches, including Ritchie, softball coach Walt Simmons and football coach Randy Traeger. Ritchie and Simmons are still on the job, Joe Panuke is the only other football coach Moffatt has had to work with and Karl Schmidtman has 10-plus years with boys basketball, while also serving as a baseball assistant with Moffatt.

Moffatt also speaks highly of the community support the athletes – and students – receive, as well as noting that the youth programs are well-run. One of the youth baseball programs in town is run by Nathan Pratt, the former head coach at Chemeketa Community College.

“I’m lucky to have this group of coaches to work with,” Moffatt told Our Town. “That’s a big part of the reason I got the award, the people I get to work with.”

Moffatt also loves to talk about the OSAA Cup.

“I always want to be in the running for the OSAA Cup,” he said. “Even when we don’t have teams that are that good we are still doing well in the classroom. We’re putting out good kids, that’s the thing I am most proud of. And sophomores are becoming leaders by the time they are seniors.”

In those 19 years as AD and baseball coach all of those successes start to add up to a pretty good group of adults. Moffatt said that every summer he usually goes to four or five weddings of former players.

“And every time I go to one I always feel pretty proud of how they turned out.”

That’s worth the wait, dontcha think?

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