Jim Carey will assume the athletic director duties at Plymouth Regional High School on July 1. Courtesy Photo. (click for larger version)
March 31, 2014PLYMOUTH — Jim Carey has been around Plymouth Regional High School long enough to know he's going to have some big shoes to fill.
But he also is sure that all those years involved in the school will help him to fill those shoes to the best of his ability.
Come July 1, Carey will be stepping in to the role of athletic director, taking over for the retiring Chuck Lenahan, who has been at the helm in Plymouth since 1971.
The school board and administration worked quickly to announce Lenahan's successors after he announced that this would be his last year as AD and football coach and both positions have been filled for a while now, meaning that both Carey and new football coach Chris Sanborn have plenty of time to get ready for their new jobs.
"Whether it was athletic director or football, the idea was to make the transition a little easier," Carey said. "And once they knew, they've let me look over Chuck's shoulders."
While Carey is still teaching physical education on a full-time basis and coaching the girls' varsity basketball team, he has been working with Lenahan as well, learning some of the ropes of what will be his new position.
But he's also spent the last 20+ years learning on the job as well.
"I've learned quite a bit," Carey said. "I'll try to take things that have worked, which is an awful lot, and keep those consistent."
Carey announced that this past season was his final season behind the bench coaching the girls' hoop team, but like Lenahan, he will continue to teach physical education, though he will not be teaching full-time, rather spending portions of his day as the athletic director.
However, teaching was something Carey wanted to continue to do.
"I will continue to teach every day," Carey said. "I don't want to lose touch with the kids."
He noted that in attending conferences, he often hears talk from other ADs about how hard it is for them to get out of the office and into the school. He said that sometimes that can grind on people after a while.
"That's why I'm excited to still be teaching," Carey said.
And teaching is something Carey's done a lot of.
He has been teaching at Plymouth for the past 21 years after spending the four years prior to that at Lin-Wood High School in Lincoln. While in college, his first job was as a junior high basketball coach and assistant varsity coach back in 1987. He continued as a student-teacher the following year and in one way or another has been involved with the school ever since.
"I've been coaching 27 years, pretty much here," he said.
He praised his fellow coaches for the success of the programs at Plymouth, noting they have been crucial in developing the winning spirit Plymouth features.
"Chuck and the administration have done a great job picking the coaches," Carey said. "They are great resources and I think that's part of the reason for our success."
Carey said he will certainly look to the coaches for guidance at times, with a number of veteran, experienced coaches on staff. Additionally, he knows plenty of athletic directors from around the state from attending meetings and conferences with Lenahan over the years. Plus, he also has a good resource in his own home, as his wife, Kelly, served as the AD at Newfound for eight years and in Lebanon for six years.
He's also hoping to lean on the experience of secretary Kathy Howard, who Lenahan has praised as the person who got him through the last 15 years.
"She's been a huge help for this department," Carey said.
"We have a very good coaching staff, a great mix," Carey said. "I am excited to work with the staff to maintain those programs that have been successful and build up the others."
And while he admits that he will miss being part of that coaching staff, he also is looking forward to the chance to get to focus on all the kids, not just the ones on his team.
"It will be great to reach a lot of different athletes, not just the 12 to 15 on your team," Carey stated.
The longtime coach is hoping that he can help make the transition from Lenahan into a new leader as smooth as possible, but he also points out that Lenahan himself has been key in that process as well.
"Chuck, he's going tot do this job right up until June 30," Carey said. "He's helping with that transition.
"Mr. Parsons (Principal Bruce Parsons) and Chuck have been good about realizing I still have a full teaching load this year," Carey continued, noting they haven't let him get overburdened. He also noted that the school board and administration had the vision to look ahead and plan out the succession plan, so the school wasn't caught with someone walking into the job at the last minute without a chance to see how Lenahan ran things the past 40+ years.
"They try to have a vision down the road," Carey said of the administration. "Hopefully we can keep that vision and not just look at the season or year ahead."
Carey praised Lenahan for his impressive organizational skills, which have made the transition easier, and noted that the students, faculty, administration and school board have all been incredibly supportive as he prepares to embark on his new journey.
But he freely admits things will be different.
"His daily presence, we'll miss it," Carey said of Lenahan. "But we all knew that time would come."
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or email@example.com