Marks Has Specific Goals In New Role As Ashland High’s A.D.

Ken Hamwey Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
September, 2018
Article Body: 

Stephen Marks is Ashland High’s new athletic director and the Bethesda, Md., native, who’s lived in town for the last four years, is not only excited about his new position, but he’s also eager to get started to fulfill some specific goals.
The 38-year-old Marks wants the Clockers’ athletic programs to mirror the community and to be visible and competitive.
“Ashland is a proud town and its people are hard-working,’’ he said. “I want our athletic programs to mirror the hard-working and proud culture of Ashland. I also want to increase our visibility. Youth programs in town are strong and I want our high school programs to be known in the community as a strength. I’m sure our athletes would want their teams to be known by the public. And, I want our programs to be as competitive as they can. If that means winning Tri Valley League titles or qualifying for tournaments, that’s fine.’’
Marks, who’s married and has a year-old son, is no stranger to athletic administration. After graduation from Walt Whitman High in Bethesda, where he played football and basketball, he enrolled at Ithaca College and majored in sports studies. Later, he earned his master in athletic administration from Ohio University.
Marks’ last two posts no doubt prepared him well for what he’ll be facing at Ashland High. He worked for three years as an assistant A.D. at the McLean School (K-Grade 12) in Potomac, Md., then he moved to the Bay State where he’s been the A.D. at Shady Hill School (Pre K-8) in Cambridge for the last 10 years.
“My experiences from college studies and my work at the two schools have been great preparation for me going forward,’’ Marks said. “I gained valuable experience in dealing with budgeting, scheduling, hiring, evaluating and purchasing. I had hoped to return to high school athletics. At Shady Hill School I focused on building programs, improving facilities and increasing participation.’’
Marks firmly believes he’s got the necessary attributes to be a successful A.D. “I’m passionate, patient, a good listener and I’m objective,’’ he said. “And, as far as strengths go, I’m organized, supportive of student-athletes and coaches, a strong supporter of the school’s mission and I feel strategic planning in one of my strengths.
The personable Marks is definitely bullish on Ashland’s sports menu, its coaching staff and the athletic facilities.
“There’s a wide variety of offerings and activities at different levels of competition,’’ Marks noted. “What I like about our coaching staff is that it’s passionate, not just about their teams but they all talked about Ashland athletics as a whole. They care about the town and the school. And, as for our facilities, they’re top-notch. The turf field is relatively new and we use the fields and the gyms at both the high school and the Middle School.’’
Marks is eager to keep Ashland moving forward in its participation numbers, its ability to compete in the TVL and to continue building strong youth programs.
“Striving to make the athletic programs visible is a short-term way to improve participation,’’ he emphasized. “I want every elementary school student to know who the coach is at the high school in the sport they prefer. I want a connection to be developed. The league we’re in is well-respected. All the schools in the TVL appear to value education, athletic achievement and competition. I also want to support our youth programs fully. I want our coaches to be connected at that level and we want elementary school and Middle School kids to want to suit up in a Clockers’ uniform.’’
The new A.D. already has witnessed students suiting up, or in this case, stepping up. He had several student interns working in the athletic office during the summer. “I did that for those who might be interested in sports management to learn what goes into running and athletic department,’’ he noted. “It also helps with the visibility of our program.’’
Marks’ first priority when he started as the A.D. on July 2 was “to reach out to all varsity coaches.’’ He also met with those involved in working at the facilities. Parents and students, however, got their chance to meet and greet him in mid-June at the fall coaches meeting.
“I was introduced to the public by Mike Grimes, the former A.D.,’’ Marks said. “I appreciate his support and help. He was dedicated and he helped me get acclimated. I also want to thank Superintendent Jim Adams, High School Principal Kelley St. Coeur, the School Committee and the community for all their help in making the transition go smoothly.’’
Marks, who plans to attend as many sports and non-sports events as possible, is acutely aware that there’ll be challenges ahead. And, he knows they’ll be issues about student-athletes’ playing time, etc. He’s prepared to deal with those types of issues.
“I’ll talk with parents but I first want students to meet with their coaches and to advocate for themselves,’’ Marks said. “If I meet with parents, I will only talk about their child. And, I’ll work with them and the coach to develop a plan that will be beneficial and make athletics a positive experience for that child.’’
Calling his late mother (Lynda) and father (Stan) role models along with his high school coach (Jay Ocuin), Marks is ready to get started as Ashland’s athletic chief. He’s upbeat, optimistic and positive.
“I’m eager to see our student-athletes progress through hard work and dedication,’’ he said. “It’ll be exciting to see them grow, then return to visit us later on as they prepare for their future. I know at Ashland High the sky’s the limit. We have a lot to offer and we’ve got strong support on the inside and on the outside.’’
Stephen Marks should be a terrific ambassador for Ashland High.