10 Tricks For Being A Successful Athletic Director

10 Tricks For Being A Successful Athletic Director

Posted by Caitlyn Stankey on Mar 23rd 2020

Whether your a seasoned pro or a newly minted Athletic Director, these tricks can help you get a better handle on your very important role!

Being a school athletic director is a little like being captain of a ship, but with your hands tied around your back. Many A.D.’s struggle with budget and time constraints; with lack of communication between the administration, coaches, parents and students; and overall, just keeping organized while also trying to retain your sanity.

No need to feel overwhelmed, however, because Trophy House has your back! We have scoured our resources and come up with a list of ten tips that an A.D. can use to run an effective athletic department. Keep reading to find out what mistakes you could be making and how to better yourself not just for your own career, but for the students you inspire every day!


No-one likes a person who doesn’t listen. An A.D. who makes the time to hear out the concerns of the people most invested in the department will not only earn those people’s trust but also put themselves in a position where they can look objectively at problems. Sometimes it can be hard to drop the four things you’re doing at once to listen to a disgruntled coach or parent, but in the long run, it’s better to address the problem head-on. Otherwise, that problem could fester and then become a whole BIGGER deal that involves not only you but the rest of the school administration.


Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes, that’s a simple fact. Nevertheless, there’s no reason to beat yourself up for your mistakes. Use them as learning experiences. You will constantly grow in your career and sometimes that means taking a few steps back so you can keep moving forward.

Figure out where you do well and capitalize on that. But also find out what your department needs to be better at. This could be as simple as an evaluation questionnaire filled out by the people you work closest with. You may be surprised by the answers you get!

ballot box


corporate apparel

It definitely takes a village to run an athletic program. You need people to run the ticket booths, concessions, help organize fundraisers, coordinate team events, the list is endless! One of your top priorities as an athletic director should be to make sure your athletic boosters are well-supported and content. If they aren’t, you may have a mutiny on your hands and lose all the useful help that they currently give.

One way to give back to your volunteers for the hard work they do all season long is to gift them a team-branded shirt or promotional product. That way, you can still market your school while also giving people things they could use! Another option to show your appreciation for your boosters are engraved awards for the top fundraiser or MVP of the group.


Sure, winning a game is awesome and good for team morale. But don’t sacrifice teaching life skills for the sake of the win. According to the NCAA, only 6% of high school athletes move on to college athletics. That means the team’s win percentage won’t benefit the majority of the team. What will benefit them is teaching them sportsmanship, loyalty, and collaboration. An effective A.D. will instruct their coaches to teach life lessons in tandem with athletic skill-building.


Schools can have anywhere between 20 and 40 different sports teams, depending on the size of the school. That means you have to have top-tier organization skills when it comes to coordinating the logistics of all of those different teams. It’s helpful to have some sort of system in place that helps you keep track of all of your tasks. Whether that’s making a list that you check off throughout the day, utilizing the notification feature of your online calendar, or keeping a work journal that combines all your day-to-day to-dos with any big picture goals and projects that you may have.

We at Trophy House also have an organization trick for you to take advantage of: Our Online Storefronts! Gone are the days where you would have to gather everyone’s apparel orders, keep track of who’s paid and sort through dozens of orders to make sure the right kid gets the right gear. We do all of that for you! Either you or your coach would just need to tell us the style of apparel or product you want the team to pick from, choose logo placement and decoration method and we take care of ordering and fulfillment. You can even have the team pay for their own gear at check out or have the school invoiced for the entire order.

person on their phone


We know it may seem easier to handle all department problems yourself, but why do that if you have a great team supporting you? There is power in delegating minute tasks to your support staff/volunteers, which frees up your time to focus on big picture projects. Create a space somewhere in your office (like a bulleton board) where your staff and volunteers can see what’s going on in the department, that way they can jump into helping you with projects without even being asked! All in all, your day will run a lot smoother if you ask for help when you need it.


sport equipment

When ordering uniforms and equipment for your teams, you’ll want the best quality product for a price that fits your tight budget. However, in order to get those low prices, you might get swindled into a nightmare contract with inattentive sales reps and mediocre products. It’s important to do some research before you commit to anything.

At Trophy House, we believe in being completely transparent in how we do business. We provide complete school partnerships and are committed to meeting your sports team and/or organization’s needs. Working with us on an annual basis allows for us to plan, budget and offer benefits to you exclusively as a preferred Trophy House customer.

We offer partnership packages that allow offer volume benefits and discounts to our partners. We buy in volume and pass on the savings to you. Our number one value is integrity – we stand behind everything we sell; we will learn and vigorously adhere to your brand standards.

Also, we will never compromise on quality, because we know that your brand is your most valuable asset. Having more than 50 years in this business and streamlined in-house production capabilities, we are a staple in the industry. We’ve built relationships with suppliers and manufacturers whose standards are as high as ours and we rely on those relationships to get jobs done right for our customers. Some of which have been faithful customers of ours for decades!

We have custom packages that allow us to tailor a partnership that is as unique as your school. We offer “All School Packages” with top brands such as Adidas and Under Armour. In addition, we offer Trophy House custom partnerships that can be custom-tailored to your needs. Email us at info@trophyhousebrands.com for more information!


When running an athletic department, all types of things can go wrong. A visiting team shows up for a game that you forgot to schedule, the scoreboard breaks down in the middle of a game, an important detail isn’t relayed to your coaching staff, anything could happen! In order to be prepared when everything goes to pot, you’ll want to have some sort of damage-control outline that you can reference so that your problem can be effectively handled in a timely manner.

With Athletic Directors in mind, Trophy House has created a handy checklist to help you stay ahead of the game! It has different tasks for each month that you can check off once complete, like scheduling meetings with staff, planning for athletic conferences, and when you should order apparel and equipment for your sports teams! The best part? We offer annual planning for our online storefronts, so you’re able to check off your sports gear ordering all at one time!

AD annual checklist



Marketing your athletic department should definitely be a priority. Getting butts in seats for sporting events not only can help your department financially, but it invokes community pride for your school or organization! You’ll want to take advantage of platforms like Twitter, where you can live tweet game scores or announce last minute schedule changes. Facebook is great for creating groups for fundraising and volunteers. Using Instagram, you can show your school pride through photos and videos. The connections that you make through social media will only make your school more visible to others and can help drive new talent to your teams!

In addition to your social media presence, you’ll want to make sure your teams, coaches, and administration are looking sharp in team-branded apparel. A team that looks good will have the confidence to play just as well as they look! At Trophy House, apparel decoration is our specialty. Our production facility is fully capable of screening, heat pressing, or embroidering any number of garments that you need without sacrificing the quality of the products. Ask us for a quote today!


We know that your job can be difficult at times. There may be days where you dread coming into work because of the mountain of tasks that you have to complete. But as long as you put a smile on your face, carve out some time in your day to do some enjoyable aspects of your job (like attending a sporting event and rooting for the home team!) and not let the stresses of the job get you down, you will lead a flourishing athletic department and bring pride to your community and to your organization!