Advancing athletics

MCHS welcomes Beard, next year’s athletic director, as he takes his first steps into a new role


Carly Byer

New athletic director Joel Beard gets a tour of MCHS athletic facilities on Jan. 26 in Buckner Gym at the Upper Campus.

Mackenzie Sroka, Sports Editor

Joel Beard will replace MCHS’s current athletic director Barry Burmeister after he retires at the end of the school year. Beard has already begun his transition here after being officially hired in January. 

When deciding on a new athletic director, MCHS administrators took many factors and opinions into consideration. 

“I put together three interview teams,” explained Dr. Jeff Prickett, principal at MCHS. “There was a parent and the student athlete team, a coach team, an administrator team, and each candidate went through all three rounds of interview. Then I met with each one at the end, and we discussed the kind of qualities we were looking for.”

Administrators were looking for certain characteristics and ideals to bring to the position, including “a wealth of experience and different types of experiences,” says Prickett. “We wanted someone who was going to really be invested in the community and invested in the experience of our student athletes — somebody who is going to put the fact that these kids are students first, an athlete second,” explained Prickett. 

While many of the candidates had these ideals, Beard set himself apart from the other candidates. “He was very confident in how he talked about athletics and student development,” Prickett added. “He talked about feeder programs, the younger kids coming up into our system, and just anticipating and looking forward to being a Warrior someday, which not only bleeds into the athletic system, but into student life itself.”

The job felt like a good fit for Beard as well. “It is a good time for change for me and looking into McHenry things just lined up with who I am and what I would like to do.”

Along with experience, Beard will also bring more diversity with him to MCHS. “He’s our first black male athletic director,” described Prickett. “We don’t have too many people of color working the district, so the fact that he happens to be an African-American male is important to other kids. The fact that coach Beard applied for this job, and it turned out to be that our top candidate made it even better. I’m thrilled to death that he brings work with equity and diversity into our into our organization.

Beard is excited to bring this to the community and to be the first African-American athletic director. “It is pretty cool,” explained Beard. “It is a sign of where McHenry is and that it’s moving forward with open minds about things, so I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”

Beard will continue to transition into this position in preparation for next school year. “I have been in constant communication with Mr. Beard and have met with him in person a few times since he was hired,” described Barry Burmeister, the current athletic director. “I will offer him to come and shadow a few days in the spring as well, in order to facilitate a smooth transition. I will also be taking him to one of our Fox Valley Conference athletic director’s meetings to meet the other conference athletic directors and to see the inner-workings of the Fox Valley Conference.” 

“He will be doing all of the duties of an athletic director,” Burmeister added “plus he and I will be hiring the new football coach together for next year, as well as ushering in the new turf football field and new track at McCracken [Field].” 

Beard has goals he has set for the athletic department and himself in the short and long term once he is instated as the athletic director. “My first goals are to increase our social media presence,” he said, “try to get to know a lot of the students, student athletes and coaches, and just looking at the things that we are doing right now and learning those the operations of what we do to grow as a department together.”

Transiting to a new athletic director will be difficult, but Beard plans to make it as easy as possible. Beard was hand picked by students, staff, administrators, and others in order to have the best possible new athletic director. MCHS hopes will bring many new things to the school, while keeping and growing the good things in the department.