BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER | MIRROR SPORTS — When the Maumee athletic director position opened up with Matt Szyndler’s resignation in July, there were plenty of names lobbed about in the community for a few weeks.
For the administration at Maumee and many in the community, one name stood out above the rest – Cam Coutcher.
Already the head varsity football coach for the Panthers and a 1997 graduate, Coutcher turned out to be the logical choice as the next athletic and activities director for the high school.
“I’m very excited to have the opportunity to make a bigger difference in the school and community,” Coutcher said.
“I always saw myself doing something like this in the last 10 years of my career, just to challenge myself. I like a challenge and I guess what better time in my career? I’ve already been in the classroom for 21 years. What better time to make this move?”
Coutcher will step away from his duties as an English language arts (ELA) teacher at Gateway Middle School, but he will remain as the Panthers football coach.
He believes opening up his days without the teaching responsibilities will allow him to concentrate on both his AD duties and football coaching.
There is supplemental money available to hire an assistant athletic director. Coutcher said that money will be split three ways for event coverage.
He mentioned a group of people who have already stepped up and are willing to help pick up any slack created when those two titles overlap, including Gretchen Brown, Brian Buck and Steve Kikolski in the high school and Gateway athletic director Jyl McCarthy.
“If I didn’t believe in the leadership and support staff around me, this would not have been a good job to take for me,” Coutcher said. “Moving from Gateway, where (principal) Angie Wojcik is an incredible leader … and all my friends at Gateway who have been awesome to work with, leaving that and knowing I have another really nice support system already in place at Maumee High School made a huge difference.”
Coutcher also said athletic secretary Michelle Greenwalt has been “incredible.”
“She knows the job better than I do at this point,” he said. “She’s been working really, really hard to make sure things go smoothly and this transition is great.”
In the past, the position included an assistant principal title, but when he saw this new position did not include that, it gave him another indication that he should apply. In fact, his wife Nancy agreed.
“Everyone I talked to, all my friends said the first thing you think of is your family and their support,” Coutcher said. “Nancy has been a head coach’s wife for over 20 years and she understands the commitment.
“I read a book called You Win In The Locker Room First … and one of the things they say in there is if you’re not winning at home, then nothing else matters. You read things at times that put things in perspective.
“The decision to do this, I had to make sure she was on board first. She’s been very supportive.”
The Coutchers also have two daughters, Julia and Blake, who are students in the Maumee City Schools.
As a student-athlete at Maumee, Coutcher earned two letters in both baseball and football. He was a senior captain of the football team, earning first-team All-Northern Lakes League as a receiver and second-team as a defensive back.
He was the team’s most valuable player and played in the Black and Gold All-Star Game in Perrysburg. In baseball, he was first-team NLL at catcher as a senior and second-team in the outfield as a junior.
He went on to play one year of football and four years of baseball at Defiance College before graduating in 2001. He was the senior captain of the baseball team and was voted as first-team all-conference in the outfield. He was also invited to play for a U.S. National team in Europe.
Coutcher came back to Maumee, spending 17 seasons as the Panthers varsity baseball coach before taking over as the football coach in 2019.
As the baseball coach, the Panthers won the 2004 Northern Lakes League title, six sectional championships – including a three-peat in 2010, ‘11 and ‘12 – one district championship and a regional title. He was named the NLL Coach of the Year in 2004 and ‘17.
Coutcher was selected as the Defiance College Alumni Coach of the Year in 2017. He was also inducted into the Maumee Athletics Hall of Fame that same year.
“We are very excited that Cam Coutcher is taking on the role of Director of athletics and activities,” said interim assistant superintendent and former high school principal, Matt Dick.
“As a teacher and coach, Mr. Coutcher has consistently displayed his commitment to the students and student-athletes of the Maumee City Schools. He is about as ‘purple and gold’ as anyone can be and we look forward to his leadership in moving our athletics and activities programs forward.”
The first steps for Coutcher as athletic director have actually started. The department has begun working with culture consultant Theresa Beeckman over the summer. Their focus has been on unification in the athletic department and creating a better culture for the student-athletes.
“I’m a big culture guy, I’ve always been that way,” Coutcher said. “As I’ve grown as a teacher and a coach, I’ve spent more time preaching those things and learning more about them. A lot of our leadership meetings that I’ve conducted with all of our athletes have been based around certain principles that I believe in.
“It’s not me determining the culture. It’s a group of coaches who have bought in and want to do great things for Maumee. A group of us determining where we want to go is the first step that needs to be taken.
“If you get as many messengers to deliver your message in sync, then you can start having a sustainable culture based upon certain expectations and guardrails and having a similar vision.
“We’re going to work hard as a department to be able to do that with the support of our upper administration.”