Gazing out his office windows at the Columbus Academy campus, Dominic Facciolla can't help but reflect on his 20 years as athletics director.
He has seen numerous teams and individuals capture state championships, and he has fostered a culture in which administrators, teachers, coaches, student-athletes and parents all feel like members of an extended family.
But after two decades of leading the Vikings on a prosperous course, Facciolla has decided to retire. He announced last month that this would be his final school year.
"It was basically a gut feeling and intuition to say it's time," Facciolla said. "This is my 20th year at the school, close to 40 in education. ... Every day I pull up and see how beautiful this campus is and it's stunning. I feel lucky to have worked here for 20 years. It's a great school in every way."
Part of that greatness, according to Facciolla, is how everyone at Academy works together to achieve goals. That camaraderie helped create his leadership style.
"There's a culture among the students, parents and coaches," he said. "There's a similar culture where effort is everywhere. Kids come here and everybody works hard. They try hard whether it's the classroom or the athletic fields. It's just a culture where everybody gives their best. You work for the coaches; you try and complement what they do. That's my job."
By having his finger on the pulse of the school, Facciolla has earned the respect of coaches and students.
"(Facciolla's retirement is) a massive loss," boys basketball coach Jeff Warstler said. "He's too humble. He's the consummate professional times 10. He understands professionalism to a T. He's been a huge mentor for me, for all of us. We really value what he thinks and the way he goes about things. He's classy. He's super family first."
One of the many highlights during Facciolla's tenure is the football team winning the Division V state title in 2003 under coach Mark Barren.
Barren also is part of Facciolla's saddest moments. He died in 2011 after suffering a heart attack while jogging near his home in Worthington.
Under Facciolla, the Vikings have earned team state titles and runner-up finishes in eight sports, with 2005 being the lone year a team did not finish first or second in the state.
The field hockey team has won 10 state titles, with the most recent coming in 2013. That team is coached by Anne Horton, who also is an assistant athletics director at the school.
"The one thing when Dominic came in and took over is his best interest is what's best for these programs. That's what's made him so well-loved and respected by all of the coaches here," said Horton, who also coaches the girls lacrosse team. "He's here for us and that's what's made him so special. ... He allows and empowers the coaches to be able to stretch their wings as they lead the programs."
The boys track and field team won Division III state titles in 2012 and 2013 with Facciolla's son, Dominic, being a key member of both squads.
Football coach Robin Miller, who is in his fourth season, appreciates Facciolla giving him the opportunity to guide a program for the first time.
"It's going to be a tough job to fill," Miller said. "He's just unbelievable at his job and I'm forever indebted to him for bringing me on and taking a chance on a young guy, an unproven guy."
Maureen Belcher, an administrative assistant in the athletics department since 2004, said Facciolla "treats everyone fairly and with a lot of respect."
Another proud moment for Facciolla is an end-of-school-year ceremony to recognize student-athletes who are going on to compete at the collegiate level.
"I've said this every year for about five or six years that when we recognize our graduating seniors who are playing sports in college, we triple the national norms every year," Facciolla said. "I'm repetitive every year. We triple the national norms for public and private schools. I'm proud of it, but I'm bragging about the school. That isn't because of me."
A national search has begun to find Facciolla's successor.
"This isn't about me," Facciolla said. "I want to brag about the athletic programs, not about me. Whoever takes this job is coming into a place that is excelling in every phase. The culture is so strong here. There's so much support here. The resources are great."
Facciolla is a 1972 graduate of Denby High School and a 1980 graduate of Wayne State University, both in Detroit.
He accepted his first school administration position at University Liggett School in Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, in 1983 before heading to Europe to earn his master's degree from Kingston University in London. He also served as an athletics director, physical education teacher and coach at the American Overseas School of Rome and Marymount International School in London.
While in Italy, Facciolla met his wife, Bernadette. Their only child, Dominic, was born while they lived in England.
"When I came (to Academy) in 1999, I was from Detroit and all I knew about Columbus was you rooted against Ohio State. But what a great town," Facciolla said. "Twenty years later, we raised our kid here and we're in a great school."
Facciolla is unsure what retirement will bring, but he's certain he will remain a loyal follower of Academy athletics.
Football team to visit Whitehall
The football team visits Whitehall on Thursday, Sept. 20, looking to improve to 2-0 in the MSL-Ohio Division.
Academy has won two consecutive games in the series, including 31-14 last season.
It is the MSL-Ohio opener for the Rams, while the Vikings opened league play with a 38-6 win over Bexley on Sept. 14.
Both teams are 3-1.
Academy used a strong special teams effort to turn back Bexley, scoring on a blocked punt, a blocked field goal and a kickoff return.
Quarterback Brady Hess passed for 129 yards, but the offense was limited to just 137 total yards.
"We love beating (Bexley) and keeping that (Mayor-Headmaster) trophy, but we have some corrections we need to make and we have to do a better job in our preparation to get ready for a real challenging opponent this week," coach Robin Miller said. "(The Rams are) loaded. This senior class has been playing together and they have a ton of varsity experience."
For the season, Hess has completed 40 of 57 passes for 483 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions. Dorrian Moultrie has 15 catches for 226 yards and two touchdowns, and Carter Warstler has rushed for 189 yards and three scores on 31 carries.
Whitehall won at Hamilton Township 27-6 on Sept. 14 as quarterback Raymell Byrd accounted for 291 total yards and rushed for three touchdowns.
Arjai Burress' 56-yard interception return for a score in the fourth quarter helped secure the win.
The Rams outgained the Rangers 412-148.
"They've got the best of us the last couple of years and our kids know that," Whitehall coach Rod Lightfoot said of Academy. "This is a game they've been looking forward to. ... This is a big challenge for us. They're a good team."
Below are the coming schedules for the Columbus Academy cross country, field hockey, boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 22 -- Pickerington Central Invitational
Sept. 21 -- Home vs. Hudson
Sept. 22 -- Home vs. Cincinnati Ursuline
Sept. 26 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington
Sept. 20- Marysville at The Lakes
Sept. 22 -- Upper Arlington Invitational at Scioto Reserve
Sept. 20 -- At Hartley
*Sept. 22 -- Home vs. Whitehall
*Sept. 26 -- Home vs. Bexley
Sept. 22 -- At West Liberty-Salem
Sept. 24 -- At Licking Heights
*Sept. 26 -- At Bexley
*Sept. 20 -- Home vs. Bexley
*Sept. 25 -- At Grandview
Sept. 26 -- Home vs. Olentangy Liberty
Sept. 24 -- Home vs. Westerville North
*Sept. 26 -- Home vs. Whitehall