In his six-year tenure at Homestead that will end this week, outgoing Highlander Athletic Director Ryan Mangan was far more about 'we' as opposed to 'me.'
'It's not any one thing that I'm proud of,' he said. 'I know I inherited a positive, successful high school when I got here, and I was happy that we were able to continue on that route, that we maintained those high-achieving standards.'
Mangan, who was both athletic and recreation activities director at Homestead, will start soon as athletic director at powerhouse Hartland Arrowhead. Mangan was hired by Arrowhead earlier this spring, putting into motion a fast-acting response by the Mequon-Thiensville District.
District Superintendent Dr. Demond Means wanted to make the Homestead athletic director's job as attractive as the Arrowhead position so he worked with other members of the administration and the school board to split the recreation activities and athletic director's positions.
The result was the hiring of Mequon native and former collegiate volleyball coach Erich Hinterstocker as a stand-alone athletic director (he has already taken the reins from Mangan), while long-time recreation manager Michael Schoemer will receive a promotion to department head, continuing his management of the recreation activities, as well as assuming more office duties.
Mangan admitted to being a bit flattered that his hiring by Arrowhead provoked such a strong response from Homestead.
'In some ways it is,' he said. 'I know there are some people out there who view this as an arms race (to create the best athletic department possible). For me, it's just about providing the best chances for the kids. It's all about giving the kids the best opportunity to succeed possible, and that includes better and safer fields.'
A process that ratcheted up considerably in the last 18 months.
Mangan was involved in the process that vastly upgraded the football, track and now lacrosse stadium. It received a new fieldturf field, installed last summer. It was all part of a large public/private project to improve 'the old swamp' and included a $1.1 million donation by the Homestead Booster Club and help from other organizations, including Sommer's Automotive, alumni and the Highlander Strong fundraising campaign, which is also an arm of the Booster Club.
When finished, the facility will also include a combination state-of-the-art concession stand, bathroom and team room pavilion (which is still being built). In addition, a new track, which was available for the first time for the boys and girls teams this past spring, was also installed. The pavilion will also benefit the nearby tennis, soccer and softball facilities (varsity softball was just recently brought back to the campus via an upgraded field).
'I believe the playing surface (field) and the track are as good as you can get,' said Mangan of the stadium. 'I believe it's a real value for the whole community. The kind of work that was done here was a bit unprecedented.'
Mangan is also happy athletic opportunities improved on his watch, including expanding the girls hockey program and adding boys and girls lacrosse this past spring. In addition, a spring 2015 referendum was approved and included money for improvements in the gym floors and locker rooms.
Mangan, while also the recreation director, was very happy the fieldhouse continued to be a major draw, being almost constantly in use for weekend and evening activities (when not in use by the students). It is in heavy use this summer for basketball camps and leagues.
That doesn't look to change under a new regime.
One thing Mangan was happy about was how Highlander athletes book-ended his final year at the school. It got started last fall with a surprising and very pleasing fifth WIAA state football championship and ended with an equally surprising and exciting girls state soccer title on June 18.
Now he looks to his future while also sensing nothing but good things for Homestead.
'They'll be new challenges, new coaches, new kids,' he said. 'I'm going to try and take it all in and do the best I can. And what happened here was obviously done through the work of a lot of great people in the private community and the administration.
'I think it's in great hands. I was just glad to be part of good things while I was here, and I can leave knowing that they have a basis for sustainable success in the future. It's always been all about the 'we' here, never about the 'me.''