A Conversation with Trinity’s Athletic Director Rob Saxton
Story by Randy Whetstone Jr.
Photos courtesy of Chad Waggener
Athletic directors are faced with a mountain of responsibilities: facility maintenance, supervising, evaluating coaches and scheduling and arranging away contests, all while cultivating the ideal athletic department that is appealing to talented high school prospects. For Rob Saxton, athletic director at Trinity High School, he calls the role his “dream job.”
“I have the opportunity and the privilege to be involved in the support and guidance of young men, playing sports that they love, surrounded by wonderful faculty, staff, coaches, parents and alumni,” he says. “All of this is part of an institution like Trinity that seeks excellence in all that we do, on or off athletic fields. It is truly an honor and a whole lot of fun.”
Trinity athletics have been a powerhouse to say the least. Each season, their football, soccer, basketball, golf and baseball programs (just to name a few) exercise dominance in each respective sport. But for Saxton, he hasn’t felt any major stress regarding the programs he governs.
“While we strive for championships in all our sports, I honestly do not feel pressure for wins and losses,” he says. “I try to focus my efforts on growing our coaches and then through them, growing our young men. After that, I try to ensure that we have teams that play with the proper sportsmanship while we compete at the highest levels. I know that we have a passionate and active alumni base along with our current families, all of whom want our student-athletes to have success and to achieve it the right way: the Trinity way.”
While there have been many successful coaches at Trinity, there isn’t one coach that Saxton would single out as his favorite. Instead, he says he “treasures the unique characteristics and styles of our many coaches,” knowing that each of them brings a depth of understanding and passion to their sport.
Unlike most athletic directors in the Commonwealth, Saxton, at times, says he also plays the role of student. From a hierarchical standpoint, he is above the coaches he works with. But figuratively speaking, he sits under the wisdom and intellect of coaches who have impacted sports on the college, professional and international level.
Out of all the lessons he’s learned, perhaps some of the greatest include the importance of consistency, communication, vision and community.
“When you work at an all-boys high school, sports are a big deal,” he explains. “Over 60 percent of our students play one or more of our 19 sports. Trinity has a lengthy track record of great coaches since long before my time as a Shamrock. One of my most important jobs is to ensure that we have strong coaches across the board for freshman, JV and varsity.
“Another thing that I try to do every single day is to align our coaches, teams, parents and student-athletes through shared communications, in house and via social media,” he continues. “I want everyone to understand the ‘big picture’ aspects of Trinity outside of their sport or team. I have learned that it is critical for me to get outside of my world at Trinity and interact and network with high schools in JCPS, across Kentucky and throughout our region. Positive and supportive relationships between schools goes a long way in high school athletics.”
Fulfilling all of the job duties of a high school athletic director is a tall order, but difficulties that may be major to most are minute to Saxton. He rarely gets frustrated on the job, and instead feels constantly fueled by the joy his job brings. He says this is particularly true when he witnesses “a player, coach or Trinity team demonstrate continuous growth and improvement in their efforts to reach individual and team goals. There is no more real joy than what is felt in a post-game winning locker room or at a season ending banquet for a team that has achieved success.”
At the end of the day, Saxton says his job is to provide leadership that ensures the athletic programs operate according to the school’s mission to prep students for college as well as “form Men of Faith and Men of Character.” When this takes place, Saxton believes the success that transcends wins and losses has been achieved. His desire is for every Trinity athlete to look back at his four years and feel good about his growth as a person.
To further progress this reality, Saxton says getting more adults involved in high school sports makes a greater impact overall.
“High school athletics remains a very, very strong vehicle in which to drive personal growth and development in young people,” he says. “The reality is that many school systems and many states are facing shortages of coaches and officials. I am so happy when I see adults, young or old, decide to give back and agree to coach at the high school level, officiate at the high school level or just volunteer to help at high school events. If I had a magic wand (or maybe a leprechaun to help) I would encourage even more adults to get involved in high school sports. They will not regret it. They will make a difference.” VT