AHS: Stewart leads the way for the Hawks

Anzar athletic director Sam Stuart watches his team run through drills during practice Wednesday.

Most mornings for Anzar’s Sam Stewart involves one of two things. He either prepares for the upcoming girls basketball game – which he took over as coach in December – or he grabs some paint and prepares the football field or soccer field.

His title is Anzar High athletic director, but Stewart is much more than that for the Hawks. Stewart, a 2005 graduate of the school, is Anzar sports’ jack-of-all-trades. Despite the increasing amount of work – he will take over for the baseball team in the spring – he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Yeah, I enjoy doing this,” he said.

A 2009 graduate of Menlo College, the 25-year-old athletic director always knew he was going to be involved with sports in some way – he has a degree in sports organization and business management. Except he always planned on being a baseball scout.

“Originally, I wanted to get into scouting for a professional baseball team,” he said. “I didn’t play long enough to have an ‘in’ to go somewhere, so I came back here. But I never really said I wanted to teach baseball at a high school.”

But one day in the late summer of 2009, Stewart received a flyer in the mail that advertised an opening at Anzar. The Aromas native thought it could be a perfect fit.

“I applied for it and did some interviews,” he said. “I’m sure it helped that I knew some people, and I got hired.”

Stewart knew more than just people at the school, he knew most of the coaches. Some of them were former coaches of his.

“It was a little strange when I called some of those coaches,” he said. “It wasn’t an issue. It was strange. It wasn’t how was I going to react – it was how were they going to react.”

Because of his success at Menlo – he played four years of college baseball – Stewart was able to gain the respect of the school’s coaches.

“I was always used to being in charge of other people – I always did a lot of leadership stuff, so I was used to that role,” Stewart said. “I can work with people and not necessarily be their boss. I told them ‘we are going to work together to give the students the best experience we can.’ It wasn’t too big of an issue but it was kind of funny.”

Since his hiring, the program has seen an increasing amount of success, starting with Stewart’s baseball team. In the past two years, the team has won two league titles.

Also during that time, Anzar welcomed its first football team.

“It’s been a good, solid year for us so far,” Stewart said. “We had a lot of community support. I know the students were really excited this year and are looking forward to next year.”

That’s only the start of his ultimate goal of having a year-round winning program. But that’s coming soon.

“We aren’t done yet, there is a lot more growth that can be made,” Stewart said. “There is a lot more that we can do, even though we are a small school. There are programs that need the finishing touches.”

The school is close, though.

“There are still some programs that need work, but we can start to expect to win,” he said. “We’ve started to see a change in the culture that we will go win. There is an expectation to do well. There is an expectation to succeed and when you don’t succeed, there is a disappointment.”

That starts with building confidence and hiring new coaches, Stewart said.

“There is nothing better for a sports program than confidence,” he said. “There is an expectation that we are going to win because that’s what we do.”

Luckily, Stewart enjoys finding new coaches and preparing the team.

“Hiring and scheduling is my favorite part because I get to really get involved with the actual sport programs,” he said. “I get to talk to other people and the coaching options and see who works the best and bring in the right person. That’s the part I look forward to. It’s the other stuff … that part sucks.”

And Stewart has no problem selling the school to perspective coaches.

“I know this school is really good at a lot of things,” he said. “We have high expectations at a lot of different levels and that needs to apply to athletics. If you can be good, be good at everything. We have a lot of ability here, and I don’t see why we can’t be good at everything.”

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