Introducing Saline’s New Athletic Director

Ashley Mantha has a lot on her plate, entering her new role as Saline’s new Athletic Director mid-year. But she agreed to this interview, introducing her to the wider Saline Area Schools community. The following conversation was conducted by phone and has been edited for length and clarity.

The Sun
Times News
: Could you tell us a bit about your early life?

Ashley Mantha: I received my first degree from James Madison University [in] sports management. From there I worked for a little bit and then went back for my teaching degree in 2010 in physical education, health and business management … Nipissing University. And then just a few years ago I got my master’s degree in education management leadership … Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I’m Canadian-American. My father is Canadian and my mother is American.

TSTN: What did you do before joining Saline Area Schools?

Mantha: My first teaching job was Ann Arbor public schools. I was a long term sub in 2011, but then I went to work at the athletic office in Pioneer [High School], so I actually didn’t teach for two years, but I was a secretary in the Pioneer office.

Then a PE job opened up in August 2014. As most first year teachers [are], I was kind of put everywhere. I was teaching elementary and middle school on the same day. It was Carpenter, Pattengill, Tappan and Clague, so four different schools during the week. It was a fun year.  … I would start each day at either Pattengill or Carpenter Elementary, teaching first, second, third graders elementary PE. Then in the afternoon I would go to teach PE and health at Clague for one hour and I would finish my day at Tappan Middle School for another two hours.

Then the following three years I was moved to Tappan Middle School, where I taught health and PE. In August 2018, I got moved to Pioneer High School. I have been there ever since, teaching health and PE.

I did an internship a few years ago, January 2020 to March 2020. I helped out at the Pioneer athletic office and Skyline athletic office. Then Covid hit in March, so the internship ended kind of early. But I was able to see how other athletic offices work.

I have been teaching since this new position. January 21 was my last day at Pioneer, then [on] January 24 I started at Saline. At [Ann Arbor] I was [taught] golf as well; men’s and women’s varsity golf.

TSTN: Tell us a little bit about your teaching golf.

Mantha: When I was subbing, Skyline was just opening up and they were looking for a golf coach. I thought ‘that sounds awesome’ and I thought I would do that a bit before getting a teaching degree. So in February 2010, I got hired as the boy’s varsity coach at Skyline and I have been there ever since.

I started the girls’ program [in] the fall of 2011. I have been the boys and girls golf course for 23 seasons.

TSTN: Tell us how you found out about the Athletic Directors job at Saline Area Schools and why you chose to come to Saline?

Mantha: Debbie Williams-Hoak, at Saline, a good friend of mine who is also a golf coach … She actually notified me back in November that there was going to be a shake up in the Athletic Department. Andrew Parrish was resigning. That wasn’t posted yet, but the secretary position and the assistant athletic director position was open. She was the one who notified me officially. Some other people followed suit. She was the first one and a couple of other people through the application at me, which was very fortunate.

My ultimate career goal was to become an athletic director. It doesn’t come around too often. So I am very fortunate that people were letting me know that things were posted and available.

TSTN: What do you think are the biggest strengths, and biggest challengers, facing Saline Athletics?

Mantha: The biggest strength would be the community of coaches and support staff. Everyone has been so supportive and welcoming. It’s the middle of the year and just diving in, everyone has been helping out one another. I think that the community atmosphere is amazing and it has been well appreciated.

[The biggest weakness], I would say, has just been stability and constancy. There has been a lot of transition in the last few months with things that have happened with Andrew resigning; there has been an interim AD and now myself. There has been things to get caught up on and be more consistent with.

TSTN: What are your plans for your new position?

Mantha: Honestly, we are in relationship building status right now. Meaning, we have over a hundred coaches at just the High School. We are also in charge of the Middle School. So it’s about just trying to connect with all of our coaches. We are very big on communicating with all of our coaches.

I’m just trying to make sure that we have everything situated with scheduling, working with officials. As I mentioned with the weaknesses, there have been so many people in the transition, so I am just making sure nothing fell in the cracks. The big take away is relationships right now.

Image Credit: Saline Area Schools

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