Long’s decision to leave based on proximity

By on October 3, 2012

By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor truth.eph@lnpnews.com, Staff Writer

Tommy Long is closing the book on Ephrata and ready to take on a new chapter in his life at Annville-Cleona.

As reported in last week’s issue of The Ephrata Review, the Lebanon County native recently announced he is leaving his post as Athletic Director at Ephrata to take over that same position in the Annville-Cleona School District.

Long, who took over at Ephrata in 2007, will succeed Karen Evans at A-C this mid-school year where he will assume some additional principal duties in addition to his A.D. responsibilities. He is expected to remain at Ephrata for up to 60 days, retroactive to Sept. 21, the day his resignation was accepted.

Reached recently regarding his move, Long, who lives five minutes from Annville-Cleona High School, cited proximity to the school as one of the biggest reasons for his decision to move on.

"By far it was the fact that Annville-Cleona is so close to my house," he said. "Having an opportunity to continue working in athletics, which I love doing, but to be able to do it five minutes from my house was something I had to explore. And seeing what the job was going to entail, and the fact that they have less sports than Ephrata, just really made it seem like a good fit."

While he said he loved his job at Ephrata, the commute and the time he spent away from his wife Jean and their three small children weighed on him a great deal. Taking this new job alleviates those problems.

"They are very excited, especially my wife," he said. "She likes the fact that I’ll be able to come home from school, have dinner with the family, even if I have to go back (for an evening event). This week was a perfect example of it. Today is Friday, and I haven’t seen my boys since Tuesday because of getting here in the morning and not getting home until 10 o’clock at night. They are already in bed, and then I’m up in the morning the next day before they are even up. I’m going to go from Tuesday until Saturday without seeing them. That part no longer will be an issue. That’s gone now."

While he’s certainly excited to begin his new post, Long said it was an extremely tough decision to walk away from Ephrata.

"That’s the thing I struggled with the most," he admitted. "My wife and I have a lot of great memories and met a lot of great people down here. Having to leave all the great people and all the great coaches we put in place, and leaving this community… It’s tough. In terms of working, I couldn’t have asked for more support from within the community. That was the hard thing, but when I looked at it and what was best for my family, it came down to being five minutes from them instead of 35. I appreciated (Ephrata) giving me this opportunity. When you are a young guy with no experience but my coaching experience and my degree, they took a chance on me and I’ll be forever grateful for that."

Ephrata Superintendent Dr. Jerry Rosati said he had mixed emotions on seeing Long move on after serving EHS for five-plus years, but understood his reasons for leaving.

"It’s hard to describe," Rosati said. "You never want a good leader to leave, but on the other hand, I’ve been in this business long enough to know that people find opportunities that will enhance not so much their career but enhance their family and life, and it’s hard for me to step in the way of that. I feel good that when Tommy came here, he did not have experience as an athletic director. We were able to work with him and watch him grow into and excellent leader when it comes to his position. I’m happy for him that not only was he able to find a position that’s close to his home but it’s going to make his life much more workable when it comes to his young children. Also, he has the opportunity to work in administration. I love this field in what we do and I truly believe that Tommy is going to go on to become an excellent administrator also.

On the one hand you wish you still had Tommy here because you worked so well together, and he’s doing many good things for the program, but on the other hand part of what we do in our business is watch people grow and watch their lives flourish so it’s kind of a mixed thing for me. But I really feel good that Tommy is moving forward in things that are going to make him much happier."

During his time at Ephrata, Long took part in the hiring of two football coaches, implemented a lot of change in how the athletic department operates, and was one of the driving forces behind getting the new turf field built at the Ephrata Middle School complex.

Looking back on his time here, Long said he has a good feeling on what was accomplished.

"I look back and feel we got a lot of things accomplished the last five, going on six years," he said. "Getting the turf field, the budget re-structuring…teams can now be on a uniform cycle, and most programs have been able to update their equipment and get what they needed to compete. And that’s a real testament to the board and administration for recognizing that to compete with the big schools, which we are classified as, we need to provide the coaches and the athletes with those opportunities. I think we’ve done that in a lot of areas. I look at the scholar-athlete program that we started two years ago. That’s really taken off and become a huge thing. We are recognizing the kids not only on the field but also in the classroom."

"I think the biggest thing I’m walking away from is just the culture within the departments is a little different now," he continued. "Not that it was bad before but it’s more of a positive working together type of atmosphere. It’s not perfect but it’s definitely working in the right direction. In a school this size, when we have to compete with all the big schools but we don’t quite have the same numbers, having that cooperative spirit between the coaches and the kids is vital. And I think we are heading in the right direction in that aspect, and hopefully it’s going to help set them up for continued success down the road."

With Long’s departure, Ephrata’s next step is finding someone to fill his shoes. According to Dr. Brian Troop, Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education, that process has already started but they plan to first look inside the school before looking elsewhere.

"We have several current employees, current teachers who have that certification, who have expressed interest," Troop said. "We want to certainly look at our current teaching staff and see if there is anyone that really wants to step up for that opportunity and give them that first chance to really be considered for that position."

Rosati added, "I think it’s important to look at the people we have here first, before we go outside. We are going to work diligently to get someone in there as soon as possible. We have time to keep Tommy here. There are different requirements that we can follow as far as keeping Tommy on board. We just need a little more time to look at the position long range. We will have an athletic director but some of the duties within the scope of that position may be tweaked a little bit. We are going to move as quickly as we can because we know we need somebody in that position." More LONG, page B-4

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