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New Jamestown Athletic Director Kenny Edwards is an unabashed Washington Redskins fan with a team fridge magnet and bumper sticker hanging in his new office.
As a diehard Washington fan, Edwards said he never misses a game or event. That was the case until last week when his wife reminded him he missed the team’s opening preseason game Aug. 13 against the Cleveland Browns.
Edwards was so wrapped up in his new duties as the Jamestown athletic director he admitted he flat-out forgot about the game.
Such has been the case for Edwards recently, who has been working diligently since July to be brought up to speed with all things related to Jamestown athletics.
With his first season as an athletic director officially underway, Edwards is hoping to keep the athletic department at Jamestown, which produced three state champion teams last year, thriving.
“I believe our athletic department is one of the healthiest in the state. We have won 29 state championships in 17 years. How many other schools can make that claim,” Edwards said.
The pressure to guide Jamestown athletics to continued success will be ever present for Edwards, who spent 28 years coaching at various levels before taking his current position as Jamestown’s athletic director.
The son of a basketball coach, Edwards always seemed destined to follow in his father’s footsteps. Edwards spent his coaching career on the hardwood with basketball teams from high school to college and even claims he learned to count by watching scoreboards in gyms in which his dad was coaching.
Edwards thought for quite some time he would end up as a Division III head basketball coach. He took a step closer to achieving that goal after 17 years of coaching high school basketball, taking a job as an assistant women’s basketball coach for Division III Virginia Wesleyan College.
In 2008, Edwards began to think about becoming an athletic director as he realized the life of a college basketball coach was not for him.
“I wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people and give them the same opportunities that someone gave me when I was growing up,” he said. “When I was a basketball coach, I could directly influence 12 to 15 student-athletes per year. I enjoyed that but I wanted to expand and help more student-athletes reach their potential and achieve their personal goals.”
Edwards now has that opportunity at Jamestown, where he plans to lean on the support he has receiving from his former coworkers and other local athletic directors.
Specifically, Lafayette’s Dan Barner and Warhill’s Dan Mullen have gone out of their way to help Edwards learn the ropes of the job. Former Jamestown Athletic Director Tom Dolan, who now works with the Virginia High School League, has also been feeding Edwards information about running an athletic department.
One of the biggest differences from coaching a single sport is offering support for multiple sports at one time. Edwards, a self-described family man, admits to being on call 24/7 and tries to be as accessible to administrators, coaches, parents and student-athletes as possible.
With the stress of managing an athletic department also comes the freedom to oversee the development of new projects, such as the renovations currently underway on the Jamestown track and tennis courts.
Edwards will also get to mold sports programs in a way he sees fit, a process that started when he was directly involved in the hiring of a new football and boys basketball head coach. Both are programs that have struggled at Jamestown recently, but Edwards is hopeful he can be instrumental in the rebuilding of both.
“My job is to provide them with the support and resources needed to build those programs,” Edwards said. “Because both coaches are relatively young in their coaching careers, I will mentor and guide them as they go through the ups and downs that occur with building a successful program.”
Watching his sports programs grow and develop is something he plans on doing first-hand. Edwards said he would much rather watch one of his teams play and cheer them on than spend time in the office working and has demonstrated as much by stopping by practices for every one of his fall sports teams.
Whether Edwards’ time as Jamestown’s athletic director will be a success remains to be seen, but Edwards said he is carrying a passion and excitement he hopes will help Jamestown become one of the premier athletic departments in the state.