Kingston junior high gets new athletic director

Byrd takes over in newly-made role

“KINGSTON – Karen Byrd is the first-ever athletic director at Kingston Junior High. Since the school opened, assistant principal Jack Hedgcock has served in the role, along with his assistant principal duties. But when the school district agreed on a new contract with the North Kitsap Education Association, KJH had funds to play someone to be both an athletic director and teacher. That person is Karen Byrd. Because of Karen’s solid background in PE and and athletics, and knowing the process, expectations, and coaches, she was the best candidate, Hedgcock said. I’ve been coaching for years, Byrd said. Over the last four years I’ve been in the office and administrative end of things a bit, and it’s a direction I’d like to explore. Byrd began her coaching career in Pullman, where she taught and coached track and volleyball at Lincoln Middle School. She also coached high-school volleyball at a high school in Pullman before moving to the North Kitsap area. She taught on Bainbridge Island, and landed at Kingston Junior High in 1992. Byrd started as an assistant track coach, and spent several years as head coach too. She also coached volleyball. But as volleyball coach, Byrd twice tore her meniscus, and after five knee surgeries, her doctor told her it would be a wise idea to give up coaching. He really wanted me to get out of PE, but I said ‘I can’t do that,’ she said. I’ll just change the way I do things. Byrd added, But I can’t coach volleyball and not be active, so I gave that up. Now Byrd finds herself in charge of schedules, transportation, eligibility issues, and all the other work that goes along with being an athletic director. I’m looking forward to interaction with coaches, she said. When you’re a coach you keep in close contact with your own coaches, but as athletic director, I’ll be able to talk more with other coaches about their own sports. Hedgcock has helped her begin, Byrd said, especially since he has already done much of the work necessary for this year. Jack has really put a lot of things in place for this year, she said. The schedules are done, the buses and transportation are taken care of. My first real job will be the coaches’ evaluations at the end of the season. I see that as my first hands-on job. “