Updated: Dec 6, 2022
Tyler Phillips is back in black and orange – this time not as a student-athlete or even a coach, but instead, as the new athletic director for Armada High School.
“It’s pretty crazy to be honest. Monday was the first event that I worked. It was a home soccer game and just sitting out there at the field with all my Armada gear on after seeing Don [Holston] for so many years out here doing the same thing, it was a kind of surreal moment,” Phillips said. “It’s almost like yesterday I was on the one on the field and playing and now I’m overseeing everything.”
Phillips graduated from Armada in 2015 where he was a five-time state qualifier in cross country and track. He went on to run Bowling Green State University where he studied sport management for four years before transferring to the University of Oklahoma to earn his Master’s in administrative leadership.
He returned to the area and has been coaching cross country and track for the last two years, but when Holston announced he’d be leaving to take the athletic director position at Anchor Bay High School, Phillips was left with a choice.
“When I saw that Don was leaving…I didn’t know how they were going to structure the job but when I found out they were going to hire as an AD only, I thought I’d at least be considered for the job because I studied sport management in college,” Phillips said. “I realized it was probably going to be the end of my coaching career and I had to prepare for that.
“It moved pretty quickly from there, I got interviewed and got hired and day one was Monday.”
Armada Superintendent Mike Musary said he’s excited to welcome Phillips into this new role and is confident in his ability to lead.
“We put it out on social media in the community and it had very favorable responses, so we’re pretty excited for Tyler,” Musary said. “I knew Tyler as a student and in my opinion, great students typically make great adults...I know he cares very much about Armada and our brand of doing things the right way, and he’s going to do an outstanding job and have a great career.”
There’s no doubt Phillips understands the Armada “brand.” Not only was he a student-athlete within the district, but he also interned with Holston, once during his senior year of high school and later again during his time in college.
“I think my experience here with Don in high school led me to want to be like him. I was inspired by his commitment to the school. He was here for a long time – 14 years – and that was one of the things I appreciated from being around him,” Phillips said. “As a coach, you’re worried about your own team and your own athletes, but as an athletic director, you have to worry about everybody, so I think that’s one thing that I really appreciated during my time with Don was the amount of time he put in to make sure everybody was taken care of.”
Phillips said he spent his college career studying with the idea of becoming an athletic director in mind, and to see that goal come to fruition so soon, and especially in his hometown, means a lot to him.
“I think it’s really special that my first opportunity to be an athletic director is back home,” Phillips said. “I have a lot of emotional ties to the community and the school and a lot of personal relationships with students that I’ve coached in the last couple of years or staff members who were my teachers and coaches.”
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