The news this weekend that D’Anne Kroemer was leaving her post as athletic director at City High was a bit of a surprise, but her reasons make perfect sense.
Her husband has an insurance agency in Clinton, and in the last year his father and grandmother died. Long-distance marriages are hard enough without adding the stress of losing members of your immediate family. It’s just as hard for the spouse who is away and must juggle the competing responsibilities of job and family and the emotions involved.
“That was a challenging time for us,” Kroemer said. “It took some family circumstance and some self-reflection and sometimes you have to put your family first.”
So Kroemer will leave City High in the middle of the summer to take over at Pleasant Valley High School.
“The (PV) school district has an amazing reputation for strong academic and activity success,” Kroemer said. “My passion is student activities and athletics. Knowing that my husband owns a business in Clinton, this is probably the only job east of Iowa City that I was interested in.”
She has contributed much to City High in her six years on the job. She was hired by then-principal Mark Hanson. In many ways her hiring was pretty standard. She came to the school as an experienced teacher, coach and, most importantly, administrator. She had been the athletic director at Davenport Central, a diverse city school that had some of the same issues as City High but had a much different athletic tradition in recent seasons. She was a junior high AD before that.
But in other ways it was a hire that required out-of-the-box thinking by Hanson and his search team. She was not a City High insider. She grew up in Marshalltown, went to college in Missouri and had worked in several other places. And she was a woman. No woman had headed the athletic department at City High, although both Regina and West High had women in those positions previously.
Kroemer credits former athletic director and football coach Larry Brown with smoothing her transition. Brown lent instant credibility to the new hire.
“He was so supportive and such an advocate for me when I arrived on campus and was on the phone and willing to meet and to share some of that history and the way things had been done,” Kroemer said.
Kroemer brought an open but always professional approach. She was accessible without meddling. She did the detail work behind the scenes that enabled coaches to concentrate on preparing their players. She was a constant presence and troubleshooter at City High events. She could diffuse a potentially hairy situation with well-earned authority. She didn’t need to shout. That’s kind of the way her tenure went at City. It was leadership born of experience, respect and personality.
“It’s been as great of a six years as I could have asked for,” Kroemer said. “It’s been an amazing learning experience. One of the reasons that I had the passion for the job at City High was the great success, the history of rich tradition, coupled with the legacy of amazing coaches and the history there.
“I wanted to learn what success looked like year in and year out. So, for me personally, I learned so much about what success looks like, what loyalty looks like, what the development of programs looks like so there is that sustaining of excellence every year and it’s not just, ‘The water was good one year and we have a good group of kids.'”
She was voted Iowa’s athletic director of the year in 2011 by her peers. She is on the board of directors of the Iowa High School Athletic Association. She has a statewide reputation for integrity and professionalism. She leaves City with an outstanding, experienced coaching staff in place, one of whom was longtime Mid-Prairie boys basketball coach Don Showalter, another out-of-the-box hire. And facilities have been improved greatly.
Sometimes events outpace the ability of newspapers to lend perspective. This column was a natural after Kroemer’s move. It also seemed to be a natural to urge City High to follow up her tenure with more out-of-the-box thinking when the school went to search for her successor. Instead the school hired from within just a couple days after Kroemer’s resignation was public.
So any suggestion now that a statewide search was appropriate seems like a knock against Terry Coleman, the former girls track coach and present assistant principal, who has been designated as Kroemer’s successor. That is certainly not the intention.
Let’s just say City High missed an opportunity to further chip away at its reputation as a somewhat insular community by at least posting the position. Positions at schools in this town are destination jobs. They are highly desirable because this community is so attractive and the schools and their extra-curricular programs are first-rate. Education is this town’s primary industry. The applicant pool would have been sizable and impressive. And maybe Terry Coleman’s name would have risen to the top anyway.
But this is Coleman’s dream job and principal John Bacon says Coleman has a vision for the job, so City High followers can hope that he learns well from Kroemer in the next three months and begins a successful tenure.