Athletics director on the job at Troup
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
When Troup High principal Niki Watts was looking for someone to guide the school’s athletics program, she set a high standard.
She wanted someone who not only had a background in athletics, but also had an understanding of the academic side of things and would bring energy and passion to the position while becoming ingrained in the community.
Watts found her person.
Andrew Calhoun, a Valdosta State University graduate who since 2016 has been a teacher and coach at Griffin High, has been hired as Troup’s new athletics director to replace Bob Schweizer.
“I’ve been really impressed with him. He’s got a mind for athletics,” Watts said. “He’s got experience. He came in with a great plan for procedures, and bringing some cohesion to our athletic department. He’s got a really good vision for our program moving forward, and he takes initiative, and he’s a workhorse.”
Watts believes Calhoun’s impact at the school will be felt in athletics, as well as academics.
“He’s going to be a good fit for us,” Watts said. “He’s going to be able to benefit our school, and our kids in a variety of ways, academically and athletically. That’s very important to me. They’re student-athletes, and him being that diverse and well-rounded as an educator was very important and was a quality that was first and foremost to me. Yes, I can trust the athletic side will be taken care of appropriately and effectively, but at the same time, we can stress the academics and he can be an asset to that side as well.”
Calhoun grew up in Griffin and was a baseball standout at Flint River Academy who hit .588 with 10 home runs as a senior in 2006, and he went on to play baseball at Shorter University in Rome for two seasons.
Calhoun transferred to Valdosta State and earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, and while he was in school he began his coaching career as an assistant baseball coach at Lowndes Middle School.
After a stint as the assistant head coach at Eagle’s Landing in McDonough, Calhoun joined the Griffin High baseball staff for the 2016 season, and he has remained there since then.
Calhoun has always had a goal of going into administration, and when the opening for an athletics director arose at Troup, he jumped at the opportunity and was hired following the interview process.
“I’ve met a lot of wonderful people here so far,” said Calhoun, who has a nine-month-old son with his wife, Kelly Calhoun. “I told Mrs. Watts, and others, Dr. (Brian) Shumate and several people I’ve met, every time I came here to visit, I always had a welcoming feeling. That’s something I was looking for. I told my wife, this is the spot.”
Calhoun believes that, under the leadership of Watts, Troup is a school that believes in a balance between sports and academics.
“Talking with Mrs. Watts, and other people, there is a commitment to athletics, and academics in this community,” Calhoun said. “There’s not more importance put on one above the other. It seems like everybody here gets that they have to go hand in hand, and they have to be part of one or the other.”
Watts was impressed with the way Calhoun set about to become a member of the community after he was hired.
“He’s not from here, so you’re getting that outsider’s fresh perspective, but he immediately started working on becoming invested in the community,” Watts said. “The moment I offered him the job, he said can I step out and call my wife? And they had their house on the market by the end of the week. His response to me was, if I’m going to be the athletic director at Troup High School, then I need to be in Troup County meeting people, and getting to know people, making connections in the community.”
Calhoun believes everything is in place at Troup to have a successful overall athletic program, and that includes having a new athletic complex that features an indoor practice facility.
“You see the commitment the community made with the new facility here, and we have established coaches here. It’s a recipe for success,” Calhoun said. “There are already a lot of established coaches and great programs. I just want to come in here and maybe give a fresh perspective to some things, and add fuel to the fire. This place could be really good. It already is good, but what we want to be in the future, I hope I can help lead us there.”