The excitement surrounding Northeastern and Union City athletics was an easy draw for Mark Pierson and Mike Thornburg.
Pierson has been named athletic director at Northeastern, while Thornburg, a Randolph County lifer, takes over at Union City after five years at Monroe Central.
Northeastern won Tri-Eastern Conference championships in boys tennis, football, boys basketball and baseball this year, sectionals in boys tennis and boys basketball, and became the smallest public school to ever reach the boys tennis state finals.
That along with the football TEC title and the boys basketball sectionals were firsts for Northeastern.
“I think that’s one of the huge things, come in and be a part of something exciting,” Pierson said. “It was a good starting block with tennis and football and boys basketball, and just trying to get them to keep succeeding and winning conference and sectional titles I think is going to be a lot of fun. There’s a good buzz at Northeastern.”
Pierson said he comes to Northeastern after serving as the first softball coach in Fishers High School history from 2006-12. He also taught social studies there.
Pierson said he graduated Mt. Vernon (Fortville) High School where he played golf, and he studied sports marketing and management at Indiana University before later returning there to get his education license.
Northeastern has recently hired new superintendent Laura Blessing, and principal Steve Angel took over in January.
“As we were interviewing (Pierson), it was obvious that he’s a school person,” Angel said. “He builds his life around the school community and has more than just an interest in athletics.”
Pierson takes over for Neal Adams, who accepted a position as assistant principal at Union City. Aaron Black was athletic director and assistant principal at Union City for two years and is now the school’s principal.
The Union City boys basketball team won eight games a year after winning just two, the softball team won a sectional game for the first time ever, and the football team has contended for TEC titles the past three years. The girls basketball team went 10-7 for its first winning season since 2006 and contended for a TEC title late into the year.
“Aaron has done a great job of getting coaches in place that are building programs,” Thornburg said. “Coaches are young, fresh. Kids want to play for them; kids want to work hard for them. Participation is growing and it’s fun to see energetic, young coaches and players drawn to that energy and feed off of them.”
Thornburg said he took an unconventional route into the AD position, but his business background and the AD experience he now possesses have helped.
Thornburg graduated from Randolph Southern and then owned two grocery stores in Fountain City and Lynn. He started coaching at Randolph Southern before spending time as athletic director and coach at Randolph Southern and Union.
“I really appreciate the opportunity,” Thornburg said.