Calhoun takes over Patriots

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- It won't be difficult for Harley Calhoun to find something positive in being named the new athletic director at Westover High School.

He can find the best in the worst situation, so imagine what Calhoun might do as the new AD -- the best of best situations.

"He's a glass is half-full kind of guy,'' said Westover principal William Chunn, who promoted Calhoun. "The thing I like most about him is his positive attitude. Regardless of the situation or the circumstances, he's always looking to make the situation better. He's just so positive. Some people look at the glass half, empty, and coach Calhoun always sees it half full.''

It's all positive for Calhoun, who was approved by a unanimous vote Monday by the Dougherty County School Board to become Westover's new A.D.

He won't waste any time. He has already scheduled a meeting this morning with Jeff Caldwell, who resigned as the school's football coach and athletic director in April.

"I want to sit down with coach Caldwell and talk about the things he did while he was here for seven years,'' Calhoun said. "Jeff Caldwell did an excellent job, and I'm happy to take over the program and I'm looking forward to continued success.''

Westover made two moves after Caldwell left, bringing in former Monroe track & field coach and assistant football coach Octavia Jones to run the football program and then promoting Calhoun, who will still coach cross country, swimming and track & field.

"When coach Caldwell turned in his resignation, it was my intention to bring in two winners for the price of one -- a football coach and an athletic director,'' Chunn said. "It's a mission of this administration to bring in people of character, people who will serve our athletes, our school and our community. Coach Calhoun fits the bill. We're very excited to have him as our new A.D. at Westover.''

Westover is the only job Calhoun, 34, has ever had. He came to the school fresh out of Georgia Southwestern in 1998 and has spent 12 years as a teacher and coach.

"Coach Calhoun is a winner and is respected by all of the Westover family,'' Chunn said. "He has served as the chair in social studies, and has been a Teacher of the Year, and he's the sponsor of our Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Westover. He stepped in last year when coach Caldwell had open heart surgery and he filled in as the athletic director for the six weeks coach Caldwell was on leave. He has worked his way all the way to the top with hard work and dedication.''

At first Calhoun wrestled with the idea of becoming the AD, but the more he thought about it, the more he liked the challenge.

"It's something I have thought about my whole coaching career, and last month I thought a lot about it,'' he said. "Not just for my career, but I have been thinking of ways to enhance the program.''

Calhoun said the main thing he wants to do is to keep Westover successful. The school routinely wins the region all-sports award and has dominated that award during the last decade. He also wants to increase participation -- not just from those not participating, but from athletes who are competing in just one sport.

"I want to keep the program on top,'' he said. "And I do want to see more of our athletes participate in more than one sport. I want to try to increase it, because it helps their behavior and it helps their academics.

"I've always encouraged that with my (athletes) and now I want to encourage it in all the sports programs,'' he said. "As kids have changed over time, I've seen that if you can get them in two sports they do so much better, because they have coaches who are not only guiding them, but watching over them. The parents really appreciate that aspect. They know (their children) will be watched over by a coach and that affects their behavior and their academics.''

As far as being a glass half-full guy, Calhoun just doesn't see any other way to approach coaching -- or life.

"When a kid doesn't perform well or doesn't do the right thing, you can get on them to help them, but at the end you need to say something positive to them to let them know you know they are better than this,'' Calhoun said. "All the negatives do is build other negatives. You always need to give them something positive to build on, You've got to stay positive. Somebody has to be positive. It might as well be you.''