A FIRST CLASS GET
By BRANDON HURLEY
JEFFERSON - Todd Gordon veered a tad left from his original career plans.
One of the more experienced athletic directors in central Iowa was poised to become a music teacher before a change of heart. And though fine arts are still a staple in his life today, he’s evolved into a beacon of athletic success over the past three decades.
A smorgasbord of experience is the first thing that when the newest Greene County High School activities director comes up in conversation.
Dig a little deeper into Gordon’s mind and you’ll discover a lot more, complete with a free-flowing pool of ideas and passion.
The current Des Moines Roosevelt AD was introduced as the new Ram administrator last month. He’ll remain in Des Moines to complete the rest of the school year. The former basketball and baseball coach is ready to grab recent Greene County momentum and swing the school district into the new age.
“At this stage in my life and career (it) is about finding the right fit,” the 16-year athletic administrative veteran said. “My wife and I grew up in a small town, we’ve been fortunate to experience the 2A, 3A and 4A level and the places you live there. We are really excited to return to a 2A/3A type of school in a single community that incorporates all the other towns that feed into it.
We are looking forward to getting back to a community school, one that you can be involved in the community. It’s who we are and I think it’s really important to be who you are in a place where you really feel comfortable. We feel like we found that in Greene County.”
Mitch Moore, who was Greene County AD and head football coach for the past year and a half, left to become head football coach at Des Moines Roosevelt in late December, paving the way for Gordon.
Gordon’s role as current president of the Iowa High School Athletic Directors Association has vaulted him into a level of significant impact, where his grand ideas have only helped strengthen schools throughout the state. He hosts a regular podcast along with two other Iowa activities directors called “Beyond the Bench,” which often touches on coaching, leadership and high school athletics while involving local guests.
Gordon jumped at the opportunity to return to his small town roots despite spending the last handful of years in the heart of Des Moines. A Griswold native and graduate of Northwest Missouri State (1985), Gordon enjoys a passionate connection to west central and western Iowa, having spent a few years coaching in Harlan before navigating the rolling hills of the Manning school district for a decade (1989-199).
Gordon sank his teeth into the basketball program, tallying more than 115 wins as the boys’ coach, capturing several conference championships and leading the Bulldogs to the 1994 state tournament, Manning’s first appearance in 33 years.
He then manned the athletic ship at Treynor where the high school collected 16 state tournament appearances and 49 combined conference championships in his seven year run. Gordon then helped turn around the Carlisle High School athletic department for a few years before heading over to Roosevelt.
An itch to return to the smaller, community feel of Greene County was the hook, and its young, energetic stable of coaches was the sinker.
People still remember Gordon from his coaching days some 20 odd years later. During a recent stop a few weeks ago in Manning, he was greeted with a “Hey coach,” even though it’d been two decades since he last manned the sidelines there. Some things never change.
“I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of good, Hall of Fame coaches and I think the things that I’ve learned over years coaching and what I’ve seen from others doing their job (could take) us to the next level, whatever that may look like,” Gordon said. “There’s been a really fine history in Greene County, we are going to work together.”
Gordon has thrived in his behind the scenes role for years, and looks to bring that to Greene County as well. Producing the best showcase possible, whether it’s football, basketball, wrestling or a concert, is his number one goal, which means a top notch experience for the athletes, coaches and fans.
“It’s what we do (as administrators), to make it better,” the former Northwest Missouri State Bearcat said. “All of that creates memories. The role as activity director, at the end of the day is to stand back and see people perform. That’s the beauty of it. It starts by making them proud to be a apart of it and for people to be proud when they come to our games. We try to do it first class.”
Gordon’s extended involvement as not only a head coach but as an assistant in several different sports has allowed him to understand what exactly it takes to build a successful athletic department. He’s been through the late nights studying game film, spent time in middle school gyms coaching up the next generation and been the guy that does everything he needs to reach the top. It’s built his character and Gordon loves sharing it with everyone around.
“I’ve coached at every level and what I think that does, number one is, (it gives you a feel) for the program approach,” he said. “It’s not just the team. The varsity coach has to be so involved. One thing we really have to make a point of is to develop the middle school. It’s a feeder program.
As an assistant you have to feel valued. With the experience I’ve had, I know how that feels.”
In the age of social media, technology and ease of access, Gordon plans to make the Greene County High School brand as visible as possible. He credits Moore with getting the ball rolling, preaching a pride and developing a strong representation within the school, peppering decals and murals throughout the hallways while ushering in new, modern uniforms in the most visible sport - football. Gordon wants to mold that branding into something spectacular, bringing it into the community and even to the media.
“About the only thing you can control is the public presence. We will work hard to make sure we are out in front of that,” Gordon said. “We can promote our kids and our programs. From day one it will be to promote, promote promote. We have some (teams) that are already doing that well, really publicizing the great things we are doing.”
Gordon will begin his Greene County duties on July 1. He’ll be the full time AD, the first such hire in well over 15 years at Jefferson-Scranton or Greene County. The previous three ADs had held a position as head football coach as well. Gordon’s sole focus on the activities director role will be something new and fresh.
“It’s exciting and I’m excited to get there and work with people,” Gordon said.