'A team player.'
That's how Homestead High School-soon-to-be-Arrowhead Athletic Director Ryan Mangan describes himself.
He has been a big part of Homestead life for the past six years and has helped usher in the vast public/private venture that is rapidly transforming the Highlander athletic plant. He will continue in that vein, along with the tasks of managing the Mequon/Thiensville Recreation Department and being facilities manager for at least a little while yet.
That latter task includes making sure the Homestead field house is well-utilized and properly staffed for all the events it is rented out for for various district and community events year-round (the nationwide youth hoops program NY2LA rents it out for area tourneys and related events several times a year).
But come July 1, Mangan will switch over to simply being an athletic director at Arrowhead. He accepted the position approximately two weeks ago and will be replacing longtime current Arrowhead AD Kevin Flegner, who is accepting a similar position at Oconomowoc.
The focus for Mangan will be narrower, but the goals will remain the same: be part of a team to provide the best in coaching and facilities for the high-powered Arrowhead district, long considered to be the most successful athletic school in the state, alongside Kimberly.
'They approached me, and we had a conversation,' said Mangan of officials at Arrowhead. 'I did not apply for it. We talked generalities, but the goals (for Homestead and Arrowhead) remain the same — maximize the opportunities within the budget. And like Homestead, Arrowhead expects excellence in the classroom and athletics, and they've achieved a lot of that already.
'My job will be to provide the coaches and the student/athletes the tools to be successful. They've got great facilities, and they want to improve them.'
Mangan said the idea of simplifying his job was a major attraction to taking the Arrowhead job. In response, Homestead Superintendent Dr. Demond A. Means said his district is looking to separate the AD and recreation department jobs in order to attract the best candidate to replace Mangan.
A description of Mangan's average work week at Homestead explains the attraction of the Arrowhead job.
'It is true that I am wearing many hats here,' he said, '... but the biggest part of it, maybe 50 to 70 percent of it, is that of being athletic director, with the other 30-40 percent being the other jobs. I know that though my job description will be focused (and narrow as a result), it is not going to be simpler at Arrowhead. They have a lot of sports out there, a lot of successful sports.'
While he expects a steep learning curve at his new post, he will bring along the same basic attitude.
'The way I worked it at Homestead was always as part of a team,' he said. 'It has been fun, exciting and challenging. We're continuing the rebuild (a project that centers around revamping the football/track stadium and the building of a new pavilion on its grounds). We've done great things.'
He will also look to do great things at Arrowhead and sees himself as a problem-solver.
'In this day and age, you have to work the public relations aspect of it and try to find the money,' he said. 'To do that, you have to be able to communicate and educate people on the benefits of why a certain thing needs to happen. Then you have to provide them with the evidence to make it happen.'
The facilities comparison between the high-level districts is interesting.
Homestead has a large, relatively new and well-used field house, while Arrowhead does not. Arrowhead does have the luxury of an on-campus hockey rink and baseball field, while Homestead has to go off-campus for those events. Arrowhead was one of the first facilities to put in an artificial turf football field several years ago, while Homestead just replaced its field with turf a year ago.
An ongoing project at Arrowhead is to replace that aging turf field.
Mangan, a Kiel native, spent years working in both the Oregon (suburb of Madison) and St. Thomas More districts before coming to Homestead. He will also come into the Arrowhead job with a working familiarity of the Lake Country area. His wife, Michelle, is a native of the area, and his in-laws live in Hartland. Earlier in his life, he lived in the Mukwonago area.
'Lots of time spent at Okauchee Lake,' he laughed.
He and Michelle are parents to three daughters, ages 11, 9 and 5.
In the interim, he will remain a team player at Homestead, trying to tie up numerous loose ends so his replacement will have a smooth transition.
'We're still in the midst of finishing up some building projects here,' he said. 'We're working with the building and grounds department and donors to make sure everything is in place. We also have a new sport we're rolling out this week (lacrosse). All kinds of things.
'I just want to make sure everything is ready for the next person on the job. This has been a great job, and there are a lot of great people at Homestead I'll stay connected with.
'But I'm really looking forward to this opportunity.'