By Jeffery Armstrong
Lovejoy High head football coach and athletics director Al Hughes said he can't run a business, build a house or fix a car.
The thing he knows how to do is coach football and be the school's athletic director and he does the best he can at all times, despite the hectic atmosphere. Hughes is one of three head football coaches that do double duty as athletic directors in Clayton County high schools n the other two are North Clayton's Don Shockley and Mt. Zion's Jackie Green.
"I do this because of my competitive drive. It's fun to have great programs that are successful," Hughes said. "In this business, you've got to be organized and you've got to delegate. I've learned the word empowerment here at Lovejoy and my staff does a great job."
Delegating tasks is very important to Hughes because he has a lot to do. Not only does he have to make the Lovejoy Wildcats "bulletproof" as the team's head coach, he has to take care of the necessary paperwork that comes with being the athletics director. And then there's the challenge of teaching five classes.
"When I get home at night, I have no problems sleeping," Hughes said.
Hughes' day starts at around 6:30 a.m. At 7 a.m., he heads downstairs for a voluntary weight training session he has with the football players. Hughes brings his laptop down to the weight room where he takes care of his paperwork while his players lift.
Later, Hughes talks with his offensive and defensive coordinators and they figure out the daily practice schedule, which consists of plays to be run on game days.
"By the time we play the game, we've already played the game," Hughes said. "We're just not keeping score in practice."
Hughes makes good use of his Palm Pilot, which helps him manage his AD time. And time is of the essence for him n the things Hughes has to do include accumulate schedules for all 22 teams at Lovejoy (including junior varsity and 9th grade teams), deal with player eligibility issues, accumulate information for the players' parents and handle inventories, awards and banquets.
Hughes said he has no problem going that extra mile to make Lovejoy athletics a success. That's why he prints extensive media guides at football games. The guides not only have the team roster, but also a message from Hughes, series records against opponents, a schedule and school information.
He'll also attend other sporting events at the school, as well as the band competitions.
"I figure we owe the band since they support the football team so well. At the end of each game, we salute them with our ?L' sign and they play the school song," Hughes said.
Shockley also said the job of head football coach and AD is very demanding, especially when he's not the most organized person around. That's why he's hired capable coaches and others to help him take care of everything. Financial matters, transportation, eligibility questions, paper work and uniforms are his responsibility, but he has help to get all his work done.
And the long hours are okay with him.
"This job is tough, especially during football season, but I wouldn't have it any other way," Shockley said. "I am dedicated to having successful programs here at North Clayton. My wife may get upset because I come home late, but I love it here."
Shockley said his biggest challenge as AD is finding quality head coaches, especially for sports like soccer, softball and others.
"Finding good coaches is a big issue. You don't want to stick one head coach with another sport, but sometimes it happens," he said.
Green echoed Shockley's sentiments about hiring coaches.
"Getting coaching consistency in some of our sports is very challenging. I had to search high and low for a girls soccer coach this year and we also needed someone for cheerleading," he said. "You'd like for these coaches to stay on for at least three to four years, but a lot of times they don't."
In fact, Green will pull double duty himself this season n he will coach the wrestling team.