FORTVILLE — Brandon Ecker cannot wait to stop pushing papers around.
Closing in on the end of summer, the new Mt. Vernon athletics director’s docket has been filled with handling athletes’ physical and concussion forms, cardiac arrest paperwork and schedules for next season.
Mostly boring — but important — stuff, the former New Castle athletics director said. “It will be great to finally get the paperwork out of the way and get out there and watch the kids compete,” he added. “That’s the best part of my job.”
Ecker’s job is somewhat of a new one at Mt. Vernon, as he became the first full-time athletics director to work under that title since Marc Caraway was let go in 2011 as the result of budget cuts.
For the past four years, Mt. Vernon High School assistant principals Derek Shelton and Greg Roach, along with athletics secretary Patty Calder, guided the athletics department without the help of a director. But beginning July 1, that was no longer the case. A little more than a week ago, Ecker officially began his tenure as the Marauders’ athletics director.
However, he’s been on the job for far longer than a week and a half. Since the announcement in April, Ecker has been at dozens of Mt. Vernon events, including track and golf contests, summer camps, fundraisers and much more.
Recently, he took some time to speak with the Daily Reporter about what he’s been up to since being named the athletics director in April and what he hopes to accomplish going forward.
Q: When you took the job, you said it would begin long before the July 1 start date. Why did you say that and what have you been doing since then?
A: I just wanted to hit the ground running, so I made a point of trying to get around and meet all of the coaches and as many players as I could. I think I’ve met most of the coaches. … Recently, I’ve gotten around to a lot of the summer camps just to kind of watch. Actually, I’ve even put my son through a few. He got to compete at the tennis camp, and even though the basketball camp was off and running when we got there, they welcomed him as well. I remember I was gone for about 45 minutes, and when I came back and looked inside the gym, he was working with two high school boys. He was right at home.
Q: Even though Mt. Vernon was without an athletics director for a few years, you said before that you believed you were entering a department in very good shape. Now that you’ve settled in, is that still the case?
A: Oh yeah. The department is in great shape. And the beauty of the whole situation is that Greg and Derek are still here, and they will continue to be here. That means if I have a question, all I have to do is walk 100 feet down to the front office to ask them. It will be great to have them on site, so I can pick their brains whenever I need to. … And of course Patty has been part of the process as a major contributor. It really is a blessing to have all of them here.
Q: In a previous interview, you mentioned that one of the first projects you’d like to take on is repairing the tennis courts. Is there anything else you’ve seen in your time here that you’d like to work on and are the tennis courts a priority?
A: When you look around here, one of the first things you notice is what a phenomenal job the school corporation has done in maintaining the facilities. Obviously that’s because a lot of the modifications were made in 2012, so that stuff still looks great. What we’ll do is look at each thing as it comes up and tackle it bit by bit. We’re just focused on providing the best experience we can for these kids. As far as the tennis courts go, we’ll take a look at it. I haven’t even met with the administrative staff yet, but I’m sure it’s something we’ll discuss. … As you walk along the grounds here, really the only thing you look at that could use a little work is the tennis courts. And that’s just because they’ve suffered the wear and tear you’d expect over the years.
Q: What else do you hope to accomplish in your first year at Mt. Vernon?
A: I’ll definitely be looking to try and reformulate the booster club. In the last couple of years, it’s kind of fallen by the wayside, so we’ll definitely try to get that back up and running again.
Q: What has been the best part about the job so far?
A: Just how smoothly the transition has gone thanks to the great people at this school. I really can’t thank them enough for the warm welcome they have given me and my family. … You know you made the right decision when you’re at new place that already feels like home. It’s nice coming to the office and not feeling like the new guy but really feeling like you’re a part of it all. The kids, the coaches, the staff they’ve all been great. It really has been a great start.