Athletic director or coach?
As Chris Golden saw it, he had a choice to make, and it really wasn’t a tough decision at all.
When it comes down to a question of either/or, Golden leaves no doubt about his preference. He’ll take coaching all the time.
That is why Golden, 56, let it be known that he will step down as Greenport’s athletic director at the conclusion of this school year. He said he wants to return to coaching. His resignation was accepted at a March 16 school board meeting.
Golden’s five-year run as athletic director will end June 30.
“I had an understanding that while I was serving as athletic director, I would continue to coach,” Golden told The Suffolk Times. “I had that agreement with the previous administration, if you will. Honestly, coaching, that’s my life’s work. That’s my passion. So, I wanted to keep doing it, and I was allowed to do it.
“Unfortunately, with the current administration, they are not favorable to my continuing to coach [while still serving as the athletic director]. Not that they said no, not that they said yes; they are just not in favor of it.”
Golden succeeded Paula Nickerson, who briefly served as the first and only female athletic director Greenport has ever had. He had also coached the Mattituck/Southold/Greenport girls soccer team for the first two years of its short history. The team is currently in its third season under new coach Rafael Morais, who is expected to return to coaching his Queens College team in the fall.
Golden indicated he would like to return to coaching MSG should the opportunity present itself. He said he would “love to be athletic director and continue to coach, but I don’t see it happening in this format, but it’s OK, I understand, things change.”
Attempts to reach Greenport Superintendent Marlon Small by phone and email were unsuccessful.
Golden, a Greenport resident, is also a social studies teacher who has taught at Greenport High School for 34 years. He has been a North Fork sports fixture for decades.
The Southold High School graduate played soccer at Canisius College for one year, “realized I wasn’t as good as I thought I was, and then I transferred to Marist, and then I definitely realized I’m not good at all, and that was the end of the college playing days.”
Golden said he understands the value of sports through his own personal experience as a student-athlete.
“I was the proverbial gym rat,” he said. “I love sports. If it weren’t for sports, I think I would not have made it through school … Sports is that kind of magnet that keeps that kid showing up for school.”
In a coaching career that stretches over three decades, Golden has coached a variety of sports at various levels.
An athletic director’s job deals with a lot of moving pieces, from budgets to personnel to fields to transportation to equipment and on and on. “I think only athletic directors really know what the job and role of an athletic director is,” Golden said. “Everybody, they see an athletic director at a sporting event. They have no idea what’s going on in terms of putting on that sporting event.”
Golden said Greenport athletics have grown. He pointed out that the school district has added a second junior varsity girls volleyball team as well as second teams in junior high school boys and girls basketball and girls volleyball.
“Our volleyball program is a perfect example, combined” with Southold, he said. “It works in so many ways. We have two JVs, so we are providing developmentally appropriate opportunities for kids who want to play volleyball. More importantly, we’re developing a program where we can be successful at the varsity level. So, I’m proud of that. I’m proud of the fact that we have new uniforms for all our teams. We have new, updated equipment for all our teams. Our teams, our kids, our coaches have exactly what they need.”
Another part of an athletic director’s job is dealing with the consequences of inclement weather for outdoor sports. Golden said, “I can’t tell you how many times a day I look at the weather.”
After June 30 he won’t have to worry about that any longer. It will be someone else’s job.