Mike O’Day


O’Day Retires: Mentor, Coach, and Friend

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Thursday July 03, 2014

Director of Student Activities, Michael O’Day retired this year after  30 years of service to his own alma mater, South Burlington High School. 

After graduating with the SBHS class of 1972, O’Day  left the area to attend the University of Maine at Orono, where he received his BS in education. He earned his MA in education from Western Carolina University, in preparation for a career dedicated to coaching and inspiring youth and staff alike.  He returned to South Burlington, and since 1984, O’Day has been working at SBHS as both the director of student activities and athletics (6-12) and the director of physical/health ed (K-12). This June, marking 30 years, O’Day retired from SBHS;  but it is clear his work will influence the programs he facilitated for years to come. 

“He is the most understated professional I’ve ever worked with,” SBHS Principal Patrick Burke said. “He’s one of those leaders that would prefer to be in the background... I’ve never met a person who works harder than him. He’s the first person at the school in the morning and the last to leave at night, it’s a fact.” 

O’Day initiated many new programs  during his time at SBHS. He  recognized the important part co-curricular activities play in rounding out a student’s education. “To achieve excellence and success in something outside the classroom gives students an added dimension of cooperation, well being, and self esteem,” he said. He cites the continued growth in participation of co-curricular activities as one of the many accomplishments of the district. “Specifically, we average between 35 and 40 percent of the total student body involved in one sport or more during any sport season,” O’Day said.
During  O’Day’s tenure, a number of sports have been added to the district’s roster,  including boys and girls lacrosse (late ‘80s and early ‘90s), dance team, girls ice hockey, snowboarding teams (boys and girls), girls golf, and indoor track (boys and girls). In addition, student services expanded to include athletic trainer services and the captain’s leadership training program. In terms of clubs, many have been added such as the Coalition for Community Service, rowing club, bowling, and ultimate frisbee.

In addition to these achievements, O’Day has been a member of the VT Principal’s Association since 1984, a member and past president of the VT State Athletic Directors’ Association since 1983, and a member of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrator’s Association (NIAAA) since 1983. The NIAAA honored O’Day in 2009 by presenting him with the Thomas E. Frederick Award of Excellence in appreciation for his loyalty to the organization and contributions to the profession.

High school girls basketball coach Sheila Burleigh said, “I remember when Mike was inducted into the VT Principals Hall of Fame. In his acceptance speech he noted that all he wanted to do was to be part of a team throughout his life. I can honestly say he has been part of a team and he was the captain of our team at South Burlington High School. As a teacher and coach I have witnessed how often he would give of his time. Coaches could interrupt  his day to discuss whatever was on their minds, asking for advice, and he could analyze a situation with a fresh set of eyes. Mike’s abilities have been well documented by the numerous awards that he has received, but he never wanted to let the world know how he has been recognized.” 

Fellow SBHS classmate and teammate, and current SBHS teacher Rich Wise said, “Mike’s unique legacy will not soon be forgotten.” 

Principal Burke added, “Every kid whether they were involved with athletics or not has been impacted by his work ethic. It’s going to be really hard to replace him.”

So what are O’Day’s plans for the future? “I’m looking forward to some personal time and time with family with a little golf mixed in,” he said.

 

SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent