Grant Conzaman retires after 35 years as Walsh AD
|Photo courtesy of Walsh Jesuit High School|
Conzaman, whose last day was June 28, said getting ready to wrap up his career at the school has been “strange.”
“It’s a situation I’ve never experienced before,” he said. “On one hand, I don’t want it to end. On the other hand, I want to get over this period of … well, I’ve made a decision and there’s a timetable and I want to get over it, so to speak. I just felt it would be better to leave a little early than a little too late.”
Conzaman was the director of guidance at Walsh from 1973 until 1994. He took over as the school’s athletic director in 1978, when he was 31 years old.
“I had been hired on as a counselor, and I was grateful to get that job,” he said. “Well, five years later, my predecessor, Bill Rico, decided to take a position at Solon right around this time in the summer. I was on vacation in New Jersey at the time, on the beach, and I got a call from our principal, who asked if I would be interested in becoming the athletic director. To this day, I remember my response. It was: ‘Well, I go to a lot of the games. How much harder could it be?’”
Among the on-field achievements Conzaman said he takes the most pride in are: winning the school’s first state championship in 1982 for boys soccer; winning state titles in softball and baseball on the same day in 2004; winning the girls basketball state championship in 2005; and beating Canton McKinley and Massillon back-to-back in the 1993 football playoffs.
During his tenure, Conzaman said, the biggest change at the school was the decision of the formerly boys-only school to become co-educational in 1993.
“The transition to co-ed, and all that was involved, was an interesting time,” he said. “But it was a good thing to have happened to the school, there’s no question. So I’m glad to have been part of that process.”
Walsh now offers 14 sports for boys and 14 sports for girls, and Conzaman said he is pleased the school was able to add a number of new sports to the school’s roster, including boys volleyball, lacrosse, hockey and swimming.
“I’m proud of the number of opportunities we can now offer to the kids,” he stated.
Running a high school athletic department is a difficult job, Conzaman said, and it can’t be done without a little help along the way.
“I’m thankful for my wife, Chris, for her unconditional love and support; my assistant, Mary Ann Dawson, for her faithful and tireless work; the wonderful coaches that I have had the privilege to work with; the ongoing efforts of members and leaders of the Walsh Jesuit Booster Club; and the friendship of fellow athletic directors and athletic officials,” he said. “It’s been a great ride — a great opportunity with great people. I can’t imagine having had a more fulfilling professional life, both as a counselor and in athletics. I’m thankful.”
Conzaman said his final few weeks on the job have been filled with “getting the necessary files in order.”
“A lot of what I have done over the years, I’ve done in my head,” he said. “So there are some files that I needed to put in place for the next person to come in. I wanted to make sure that things would be written down to help make that transition. I’ve just been tying some things up and getting things in order.”
Succeeding Conzaman as Walsh Jesuit’s athletic director will be Barbara Salata, who spent the last eight years as the athletic director for Elyria Catholic High School.
“I met with the new AD and got a chance to talk with her a bit,” Conzaman said. “She’s going to do great. She certainly knows the job of athletic director and knows it well. She is very personable, and her main transition will just be learning Walsh — the particular things about Walsh. But I don’t anticipate us skipping a beat.”
As for his own future, Conzaman said he doesn’t have plans to take on any official jobs. Walsh Jesuit sports will always be part of his life, but he is looking forward to being able to watch the school’s games through a fan’s eye for a change.
“Rather than worrying about, or thinking about, what needs to get done or what could go wrong, it will be just a matter of watching the games. It will be different and, I think, more enjoyable,” he said. “I certainly want to be active, though. I will give more of myself to my family, and pursue service opportunities at church and community. I will be available to help at Walsh Jesuit or other athletic programs. God has blessed me in my professional career, and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for me in the future.”
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