Interview with Assistant Athletic Director Gene Patterson
This fall, we sat down with a very important figure in the Woodward athletics world, but one who operates in largely a behind-the-scenes role: assistant athletic director Gene Patterson.
Gene has worn many hats at Woodward over his almost 20 years at the Academy, and on an average day over those 20 years you could find him posting on Twitter about the most recent region title for a Woodward team before racing off to tape a student-athlete’s ankle as our head athletic trainer in preparation for a game where he’d be in charge of event management. Read our Q&A with the inexhaustible Gene Patterson below.
War Eagle Watch: Tell us how you got started at Woodward.
Gene Patterson: I started at Woodward Academy in the fall of 2000 when the Academy determined there was a need for a second certified athletic trainer. I initially taught Physical Education in the Lower School during the day and then provided athletic training coverage after school. I stopped teaching two to three years later to focus entirely on working in the athletic department.
WEW: We know you do everything at Woodward — can you give us a rundown of all the different things you do now? What does a typical day look like for you?
GP: It is true that based on the time of day I could be wearing any one of several different ‘hats.’ Right now, I am an assistant athletic director as well as head athletic trainer, but I am slowly transitioning away from full-time athletic training to a more administrative role. Besides directing and coordinating the Sports Medicine program, I also oversee the Student Athlete Advisory Council, handle the athletic department Twitter feed and any other social media items, update and manage the athletic portion of the Woodward Academy website, assist Woodward’s marketing and communications department in gathering of stories and information for different publications and media outlets, plan and organize our annual signing day ceremony, teach the Georgia High School Association’s (GHSA) Lay Coaches Principles of First Aid class, conduct the GHSA wrestling weight certification testing for this area, and assist the Director of Athletics in the day-to-day operations of the athletic department including event management, facility management, and scheduling.
My typical day starts out with one of my most important duties: bringing my son to school. I really enjoy our time together every day in the car. Working in athletics involves a lot of late evenings and long weekends with a lot of time spent away from my family. I always make sure to cherish and enjoy all the time I get with all the members of my family. After dropping him off, my mornings are generally spent on different athletic administrative items: updating different web pages, scheduling Twitter feed activity, helping plan upcoming athletic events, meeting with vendors, and many other athletic items. During lunch time I help supervise the students in the Tyler Brown Center. After lunch is generally more of the same from the morning, but the focus usually shifts to planning and setting up whatever athletic home event we may have on that particular day. At the end of the day I am generally in the athletic training room helping with assessments, treatments, rehab activities, and event coverage. If I am not at an event covering as an athletic trainer, I am generally covering as game or event administrator. As event administrators, we greet visiting teams and officials, make sure facilities and equipment are ready for that particular event, and help handle any issues which may arise during the event. We work very hard to make sure everyone — spectators, visiting teams, and officials — all have an enjoyable and memorable experience attending an athletic event at Woodward Academy.
WEW: What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
GP: There are several different aspects of working in athletics, and specifically at Woodward Academy, that I enjoy, but probably the most rewarding is when a young student-athlete battles and perseveres through some form of difficulty, whether it’s a significant injury, a battle for playing time, or just an overall skills improvement, and then achieving success through that struggle. The growth, maturity, and satisfaction that comes from these events is what makes participating and competing in athletics so special.
WEW: Coming up on the big 20-year mark at Woodward, what changes have you seen in the school in that time? What are you excited about for the future of the school/athletics program?
GP: Obviously, a lot has changed in the past 20 years. With the help and support of Woodward Academy’s leadership team, we have seen a significant improvement in all of our athletic facilities. Technology has changed the world of athletics and Woodward Academy has embraced and utilized those changes to the benefit of our student-athletes and teams. As a top preparatory school, Woodward Academy has always done an excellent job of preparing students for the next stage of their academic journey, but the hard work and dedication of our coaches has shown we can also do an outstanding job of preparing exceptional athletes for their next step. The list of athletes continuing on to play at the collegiate and/or professional level over the past 20 years shows not only their desire and drive but the care and compassion of our talented coaching staff. I think the future will be an exciting time to be a part of the athletic program at Woodward Academy.
Woodward is always going to be an excellent competitor, vying for state titles year and year out. But we are not concerned simply with winning championships. We are working at developing character and leadership qualities of our future leaders. I am excited to be a part of a future that strives to develop Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, Dedication and Excellence in everyone who wears a Woodward Academy War Eagle uniform.