Returning home: A Q&A with new Athletic Director Drew Schmidt

Some are lucky enough to call McNick home for 4 years. Most go off into the world where they pursue jobs and find ways to positively impact society. Others return to McNick, as a parent or in a position as support staff, a coach, a teacher, or an administrator — any way to stay involved with the McNick community.

Athletic Director Drew Schmidt would fall into the latter. A grad of the Class of 2006 at McNick, Schmidt has returned home to lead the athletics department at McNick, a job he has “dreamt of” since he was younger. With the opportunity to answer some questions, Schmidt talked to The Milestone about his new role at McNick.

Q: What are you most looking forward to/excited about as you begin your tenure as the new Athletic Director at McNick?

Schmidt: “Being back home! When I say that, I mean a place where I am very comfortable and grew up since I was a baby. When you are home you feel as if everyone is part of your family and I am excited to take this school to new heights with all of the great people that are here. Just being a part of this community is so special. I am excited to connect the powerful tradition and history of this school with our current and future Rockets.”

Q: What was most appealing to you about coming to McNick to begin this new chapter of your life?

Schmidt: “Being able to try and provide student athletes and coaches with an experience that is first-class and ‘big-time.’ I want to build an athletic department that rivals any other athletic department in the state of Ohio, and there’s no doubt we can do that here. We have a unique opportunity at this place to cultivate an atmosphere that gives us the capabilities to win state championships and provide our students with programs they’re proud to compete for while here, and carry-on when they go off to do bigger and better things as graduates.”

Q: Since you’re an alum, was there ever a thought to you about coming back to McNick in any capacity or did you never think you’d have a role here past your high school days?

Schmidt: “As a freshman in high school I wrote a paper about wanting to be the Athletic Director here when I had to begin ‘working.’ As I moved on and was fortunate to play baseball in college, my experiences, travels, and exposure to other athletic departments across the country really drove my direction in wanting to pursue this specific position even more. Being exposed to so much through my sports’ endeavors has always energized me to be able to lay a foundation, here at McNick, that our student athletes will get a real sports experience to want to compete for our school and for their friends.”

Q: What makes McNick a great place to work and a place where you’d feel comfortable starting your new chapter as an Athletic Director?

Schmidt: “First and foremost, the people; from alumni, to teachers, to current students and families, to others who find their niche here that didn’t necessarily go to school here. We are a community that strives and starves for success. We have a unique community, that is quite literally close-knit, and being a part of this community means you’re a part of a culture/family and not just a part of a place of status. We are a place that’s waiting to burst at the seams and I want to help our students and families realize that we can accomplish more remarkable things that many McNick students, including myself, dreamt of doing while they were here.”

Q: You have experience coaching in sports, most recently as the head baseball coach here at McNick, did any of those experiences help you in your transition to becoming an Athletic Director?

Schmidt: “Coaching was a huge asset to stepping into this role. I have coached basketball, baseball, and football for high schools and it’s given me a wide perspective on student athletes and coaches. It has opened my eyes to a big-picture type of mentality…how all coaches want to be treated, what type of coaches we need to put into place for people/athletes to be successful, and it’s given me a variety of experiences to understand what athletes want in order to have a good experience in high school.”

Q: What’s been the most difficult part of transitioning to your new role, anything that has stood out to be especially difficult?

Schmidt: “COVID-19 would be the easiest to say has been the most difficult. I hurt so bad for the student athletes to not get the opportunity to play in front of their classmates and friends this year. It meant so much to me to put the McNick uniforms on when I was in high school, so I feel for the athletes and our students not be able to pack the stands each game and rep the ‘M’ as we know it. I do love the fact they still get to play for the school and always know there’s 25,000 McNick fans out there, regardless of the amount of fans that are in the stands – you’re always reppin’ the M!”

Q:  Is there anything you’d like to add or say directly to the McNick community?

Schmidt: “I want to express how proud and grateful I am to serve everyone in our community as Athletic Director. Some kids dream of being firefighters, police officers, pro athletes, CEOs of businesses; when I realized playing sports would come to an end at some point in my life I always had the dream of being McNick’s AD. It may be a little sooner than I thought because I wanted to be a pro athlete when I was 10 years old, but I still have the same intentions as I’ve always had…to provide our student athletes and families with a product and service that’s second to none and to help elevate this athletic department to places I wanted to get to as a student athlete… I’ve never forgotten my roots and the place that has meant so much to my family and me; I’m here to serve our athletes to provide them with a place they’re proud to be a part of!”

Drew Schmidt, who is a member of the Class of 2006, returned to McNick over the summer as the newly hired Athletic Director when former Athletic Director Rob Heise retired.  “I’m here to serve our athletes to provide them with a place they’re proud to be a part of!” Schmidt said.

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