Jason Supple, a Lawrence schools lifer and, most recently, Lawrence High School’s varsity football coach, was appointed the district’s new athletic director at the July 12 Board of Education meeting.
Supple, 40, an Oceanside resident, was raised in Inwood playing soccer, football, basketball, baseball — “every sport you can imagine,” he said. “Sports has always been a huge part of my life.”
He was an experienced athlete by the time he entered Lawrence High, having been involved in the Inwood Buccaneers Athletic Club, a youth sports program. His high school football coaches Rich Mollo and Fred Ciampi became his mentors, and he imagined himself in the future as a phys. ed. teacher and coach.
Supple graduated from LHS in 1999, and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physical education from Adelphi in 2004 and 2006. He coached Buccaneers teams throughout college, and began his Lawrence High coaching career in 2005, assisting with the football and basketball teams. In 2009 he became a phys. ed. teacher.
“He’s a great role model,” Lou Robinson, who has coached varsity boys’ basketball at Lawrence since 2009, said. “He’s a mentor. He’s a real leader.” Robinson described Supple as “intense,” but said he has a soft side as well that students really respond to, so they like and respect him.
Supple continued coaching after being hired as a gym teacher. “I wanted to coach — that was always my passion,” he said.
Though he didn’t initially consider becoming an administrator, his interest grew during his early years of teaching. “When I started teaching, the administration wasn’t exactly on my radar,” he said, “but then, you know, the more I got into it, the more I kind of got interested in the administrative side of it.”
In 2016, Supple started taking online administration classes with the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and completed his School Building Leader/School District Leader Certificate a year and a half ago.
“Luckily enough, the (athletic director) position opened up this year, and I was able to make the jump from teacher and coach to get into it.”
Supple succeeds Brett Kornblum, who moved on to another district.
“Anyone who has ever had the pleasure to work alongside, be coached, or taught by Jason knows what (an) outstanding individual he is, I certainly do,” Lawrence Superintendent Ann Pedersen wrote in an email. “The Board of Education and I are thrilled that he will be continuing to apply his professional talents here in this well-deserved new role.”
As athletic director, Supple will supervise all gym teachers and coaches, physical education facilities and equipment, sports team and their transportation, he explained.
He will also make sure the schools hire good coaches and gym teachers that will “build relationships with kids,” he said, “and basically keep our program thriving and moving in the right direction.”
Though he is grateful for the promotion and looking forward to the job, he said, he no longer teach physical education and will have to give up coaching, his longtime passion.
“It was not an easy decision to walk away from that,” he said, adding that though the decision was bittersweet, it was right for he and his family — his wife Elizabeth, daughter Emma, 4, and son Jackson, 2 — as well as LHS district students. “In this position, I can do a lot of good for a lot of them,” he said.
On May 12, the varsity softball team took on Valley Stream Central High School, a rival squad. Supple guided the Golden Tornadoes to a 4-1 win on what turned out to be his last day as a coach. “It was a good way to go out, and it was my last memory coaching,” he said. “It was a positive one.”
Of his promotion to athletic director, Supple said, “I don’t want to be corny and say it’s a dream come true, but it’s definitely a goal I’ve been working towards.
“I’m thrilled to be able to do the job. I think I can make a difference in a lot of kids’ lives. I think it’s important for the students in the district to have a positive role model — for athletes to have somebody positive to look up to. I think I can provide that for them. I think I’ve been (that role model) as a coach, and I think I’ll continue to do that as an administrator.”
Robinson said he believes that Supple will excel in his new role. “I think he’s going to do great, and I think he really represents what Lawrence pride is supposed to be,” Robinson said, referring to Supple as a “Lawrence lifer” because he has grown in the district, but not out of it.
“My goal for any athlete in this program is for them to succeed on the field and in the classroom,” Supple said. “It’s our job to put them on the right track while they’re with us.”