Upper Arlington News

Schaefer quits as UA boys athletics director

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Ted Wolford's top memory of Michael Schaefer's tenure as Upper Arlington High School's boys athletics director involves Schaefer going above and beyond his responsibilities to help another school.

"We went to Centerville for a state semifinal last year, and there were a lot of issues," said Wolford, who has coached the boys lacrosse team the past 23 seasons, guiding the Golden Bears to three consecutive Division I state titles and 15 overall. "Michael helped move fans to the proper section. He sold tickets. He did anything (Centerville's) AD needed. The fact that he took time away from his own life to go that far and support us ... well, that told me how important UA athletics are to him."

Schaefer said they will remain so, even as he changes jobs.

He is stepping down as boys athletics director -- a position he has held since 2010 -- as of July 31 to become a health teacher at Jones Middle School.

Schaefer, who will continue his role as an assistant coach with UA's football team, said family reasons influenced his decision. He and his wife, Kirsten, have three children -- Samantha, 10; Bo, 7; and Emma, 4.

"I've had a fantastic run, but with three little kids, it's time for a change," Schaefer said. "My priorities have always been faith and family first, and for me to do that, this was a career move I needed to make."

Schaefer will be succeeded on an interim basis by Jim Voyles.

Previously a health, wellness and physical education teacher at the high school, Schaefer served as interim athletics director along with Greg Sullivan for the winter and spring seasons of the 2009-10 school year. In the summer of 2010, he was named boys athletics director, with Jodi Palmer taking the same job overseeing girls sports, a position she continues to hold.

"Within the first few months, we really figured out (having two athletics directors) was a good way to do things. That's a lot of sports for one person to handle," Palmer said. "I've loved sharing those duties. You get to bounce ideas off someone instead of making all the decisions on your own. If one of us couldn't cover an event, the other person was available.

"Michael is very conscientious, and by that I mean he takes a lot to time to plan and make sure our students have the best experience possible."

Former baseball coach Matt Middleton, who recently resigned after five seasons to become an assistant principal at Hilliard Darby, lauded Schaefer as an athletics director who effortlessly related to his coaches.

"As an AD, you're not always leading kids. Most of the time, you're working with adults," Middleton said. "He was someone who listened and always knew how to deal with an upset player or parent. He was willing to talk you through a situation. He's one of my better friends and I know he'll be happy in his new job."

Voyles served as principal at several area schools in the Columbus City and South-Western districts from the 1980s to 2006, including Linden-McKinley, Columbus South and Westland high schools.

This past school year, Voyles was interim girls athletics director at UA for eight weeks when Palmer underwent surgery and spent three weeks in the spring filling various roles for the high-school administration.

"I helped out however they needed," said Voyles, who had parent meetings the last week of June and earlier this week. "Hopefully, my experience will help me. I know the teachers, I know the coaches and I know a lot of parents. I live one street over (from Marv Moorehead Stadium). The band and I are very close. I hear them practicing all the time."

Schaefer plans to continue following UA athletics beyond his football duties.

"This is a great district and I am not leaving," he said. "Time has just become a bigger issue for me, and I don't want to miss out on anything with my family."

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