As the sports scene in Forsyth becomes more crowded and complicated, Todd Shirley’s job will be to simplify it as much as possible.
Shirley was hired July 1 to act as county-wide athletic director for Forsyth County Schools, taking over what had been a part-time position on a full-time basis.
With the county opening new high schools and middle schools at a steady clip, the time was ripe to bring in an administrator to grease the wheels of systemwide athletics and act as a liaison between schools, parents and the community, according to system superintendent Buster Evans.
“Everything about extra- and co-curricular activities can be fairly complex, from eligibilities to scheduling, logistics as far as travel, so for us to be able to move to a situation where we have a single person who can coordinate all of those kind of things, I think will just create better opportunities for kids and make us a lot more efficient in the process,” Evans said.
Shirley, 40, previously worked at South Forsyth High as an assistant principal, and most recently at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic School in Kennesaw.
“When I got this offer, I just couldn’t stand it. I was ready to come back,” Shirley said of returning to Forsyth.
He has coached multiple sports at high schools in Georgia, Arkansas and North Carolina; including football, track, tennis and wrestling.
One area that Shirley says he’ll be focusing on right away is bridging what he calls “a perceived gap” between the local middle school and high school programs, working to create a seamless transition for athletes moving between the schools.
“I want to develop good relationships between our middle schools, that will feed our high schools, and make sure all of our coaching staffs are collaborating with each other, working as one staff,” he said.
Shirley will also be focused on establishing good relationships with the county’s parks and recreation programs, he said.
“They do a fantastic job for the kids in this county, and we want to be supportive of them. They, in turn, are being very supportive of us,” said Shirley.
With 18 years’ experience in education, Shirley is a strong believer in the power of sports to complement or even increase academic success.
“Athletics is the one avenue, especially for kids that are in danger of not succeeding in school, it is an avenue for them to find their niche and to be able to succeed at something and then that, in turn, turns into academic success,” he said.
"I think you’re going to find that our kids that are extremely disciplined in the classroom a lot of times also are gifted athletes. Being a gifted athlete doesn’t mean you have to be a football player or baseball player. Our band students, our debate students, they’re all just gifted, gifted kids.”
Shirley names wrestling and football as his favorite sports, before quickly adding that he enjoys watching all sports.
He is married to Ann and has a set of 9-year-old twins, Will and Julianna.