North Lamar High School’s new athletic director may not be coaching a certain sport currently, but being around sports is not a new concept for him.
Kendal Kirk was hired as the permanent Athletic Director for North Lamar during an April 20 school board meeting after previously being named the interim athletic director on Feb. 13. Kirk will officially start his position as full-time Athletic Director on July 1 and is the only person of his position in the area to not be a head coach of a sport while serving in his new role.
So, where did Kirk’s passion for sport come from? Well, he said he has grown up around sports his entire life, and he put an emphasis on sports for his family from a young age.
Kirk said he began playing organized sports when he was seven years old, beginning with baseball. Along with baseball, Kirk played as a center in football, golf, and tennis. He remembers the times his father took him to Texas Rangers games when he was growing up, which still resonates with him strongly to this day.
“I think it (sports) is a good way to bond, especially with fathers,” Kirk said. “It still goes on to this day. We won’t just talk about the North Lamar football games on Friday nights when we call each other, but also what is going on in college and professional sports as well.”
As an athlete, Kirk self admittedly said he wasn’t the all-star on any of his teams he played on but was durable as he did not sustain any serious injuries throughout his playing career. He fulfilled his role on the teams he played on from youth teams through his time as a student-athlete at Mount Pleasant High School. His presence was not important due to any pro-ready skill sets but by his consistent attendance and work ethic. These things are a couple of reasons as to why Kirk has a strong belief in the concept of teamwork in sports.
“I like to play sports, and it taught me to work with other people well,” Kirk said. “It showed me the importance of understanding whatever your role is and being a part of something bigger than yourself. It’s not all about you in any team sport. You have to be a unit. If you aren’t working well on the same page, you aren’t going to get anywhere. These are things that help with life after the playing days come to an end.”
Before attending college at Texas A&M in College Station, Kirk said that he and his wife met on a blind date and got married about six months after that. In addition to this, he said he had another unique breakthrough at a young age.
“All my hair went gray when I was probably around 18,” Kirk laughed.
Kirk said he enjoys spending time with his family after work along with hunting and fishing in his downtime. Along with the good times and memories, Kirk does recall some humbling experiences in his life.
“I went to college at Texas A&M in College Station, and I rode my bike from my apartment a lot,” Kirk said. “I was on campus and I tried to hop up on the curb, my wheel got caught on it, I flipped over the top of it and landed flat on my back in front of a bunch of people. I was embarrassed at the time, but I knew it wasn’t a big deal since I would never see any of these people again, so I rode off.”
During stressful times, it is common for one to go to their own personal “happy place,” which applies to Kirk as well. Kirk said his happy place is in a cabin in the mountains where he can enjoy nature, peace and quiet, no technology, and the remoteness of the environment. This may have come in handy when one of his baseball players he previously coached wasn’t on the same page as him during a game.
“As a coach, one of the craziest things I ever heard involved a kid I coached not taking the first pitch after I gave him the sign to do so,” Kirk said. “I gave him the sign to take the pitch instead of swinging. Well, he swung at the pitch and I said, ‘I gave you the take (sign), why did you swing?’ He said, ‘Coach, it was a strike.’ It was comical, he was young and I understood his way of thinking, but he just didn’t understand the situation.”
At first, Kirk came on as the interim athletic director in February per request of the school board, and the job was later posted as just athletic director without a head coach title attached to it. Kirk said he pursued the job without expectations, but was pleased to secure the position. Even though the norm is for an athletic director to also serve as their respective school’s head football coach, Kirk is excited for his role within the athletic department.
“A trend we’re starting to see now is athletic directors are just athletic directors with some principal background,” Kirk said. “My job is just to kind of make sure things go smoothly throughout the athletic department from volleyball to football, cross country, girls soccer along with every other sport. I’ve coached baseball, football, volleyball, and girls soccer, so I’ve kind of done it all and seen it all. I will always claim to not think I’m the smartest person in the room, and I rely a lot on the other coaches when I talk to them. I want to listen to their expertise and guidance without just enforcing what I want to do.”
Kirk will lead the athletic program, which brought in a new head football coach and plans to build upon the success of the boys and girls basketball and soccer programs, baseball, softball, and volleyball teams, which have all reached the playoffs at least once within the last three seasons.
#timeout is sponsored by Subway. Stop by one of their Lamar County locations today.