There will plenty of new at Wisconsin Dells High School this year.
A brand new high school building, new students, a newly revamped South Central Conference for football, and of course, new protocols due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On top of all that, a familiar face will be serving in a new position.
After spending the last eight years as Wisconsin Dells’ athletics secretary, Trina Slack will be taking over for Aaron Mack as the Chiefs’ new athletics director. After accepting the vacant football head coaching position at DeForest High School, Mack finished out his contract with Wisconsin Dells through the end of June.
Slack, who officially began her capacity as athletics director on July 1, said the opening piqued her interest and “it kind of made the most sense.”
“I’ve had a working relationship with a lot of the coaches and some of the stuff I’m doing now will obviously be different, but certainly the interest was there,” she added.
The onus won’t entirely be on Trina Slack however, as district superintendent Terry Slack will be assuming some of the responsibilities of athletics director. While Trina Slack will handle day-to-day operations, such as hiring officials and arranging transportation, while Terry Slack and other administrators will help step in should a coach resign or retire at the end of the season.
“Then we would go about posting the position and probably myself, the building principals or a combination thereof, would look to do the hiring piece of that,” Terry slack said. “Certainly Trina would be a part of that, but the administrative team has a great deal of experience hiring teachers and professional staff members.”
Given the unprecedented situation facing schools across the country, Terry Slack said that as the SChool District prepared its budget for the 2020-21 school year, “we knew we were presenting a structural deficit at that point in time.”
That spurred Wisconsin Dells to look at other containment strategies, ultimately mirroring a model similar to that of Prairie du Chien, where superintendent Andy Banasik serves as acting AD and has an assistant.
After working out the details throughout May and most of June, Terry Slack said they presented the arrangement to the Dells Board of Education. Given their marriage, Terry Slack said he removed himself from the room to leave the decision up the Board itself and the district business manager, who precipitated the transition of the position itself.
On top of the fiscal responsibility, Terry Slack said promoting from within was a big draw “rathern than having to bring in someone who would have been brand new, who might not have that requisite background knowledge of the inner workings day-to-day.”
Both Trina and Terry Slack are confident the change will work, but they will reassess as the school year progresses. Adding a roadblock to that this year is the coronavirus pandemic.
The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Board of Control scheduled a business meeting on July 23 at 9 a.m. to address the issues facing fall sports, including consideration of a proposal submitted by school administrators from the southwest portion of the state.
The proposal would delay all fall sports until the spring of 2021, according to a WisSports.net report. The fall sports would begin in March and wrap up in late May; the spring sports would begin at the end of May and extend into July according to a copy of the letter from the southwest Wisconsin schools’ administrators reviewed by the State Journal and the WisSports.net report.
If the fall sports were moved to the spring, the winter sports season would be the first to start, either on schedule or pushed back to January, 2021. The proposal could mean shortened seasons. Traina Slack said she would be in favor of the temporary change, but that doesn’t mean she’s without reservations.
“My concerns are when you run into the spring season and you’re going to push that back into the summer, it’s going to conflict with AAU, club sports and American Legion,” she said. “Unfortunately I wish I had a better answer than the proposal, but I think it does give kids the best chance.”
“Right now there’s no right answers and there’s no wrong answers; we’ve just never experienced this before,” Terry Slack added. “Nobody wants to lose any season and we know that far too well in our community with the end of the basketball season, but it’s just really, really challenging and disrupting times. I know the Board of Control will vet this heavily and at the end of the day they’re going to make the best decision they can, but there aren’t any right or wrong answers.”
Whatever the WIAA decides, Trina Slack plans she’ll roll with the punches. Regardless if that creates more headaches should the seasons get shuffled, she knows it will be for a good reason.
“If the WIAA changes schedules, that may create some work but that’s okay because at the end of the day we want kids to participate if that’s what’s best for them. But the uncertainty of how things are going to look has been the biggest challenge up to this point,” she said.
Follow Sean Davis on Twitter @SDavis_PDR or contact him at 608-745-3512.
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