Full speed ahead at critical time: New Tonganoxie High athletics director settling in at pivotal point
Educators and administrators are getting ready for an unprecedented school year.
Cody Witte is doing so at new school.
Witte is the new activities director at Tonganoxie High School. He also serves as a new assistant principal, taking over for Brandon Mellen, who stepped down to take on another job at an American academy in Peru.
Witte comes to THS from Jackson Heights, a Class 2A school near Holton. He was there three years and served as high school and middle school athletics director at Jackson Heights.
“There’s been no slowly getting the ball rolling,” Witte said of his new post. He started at THS on July 1.
Originally from Udall near Wichita, he eventually played football at Winfield High School and continued his football career at Fort Hays State University where he played as a wide receiver for the Tigers.
He got into coaching as a Rule 10 coach at LaCrosse while he finished up his degree at FHSU in 2008.
His first job was at Chisholm Trail Middle School in Newton.
After two years there, he taught in the Auburn-Washburn school district and then taught strength and conditioning and physical education at Mission Valley, also near Topeka.
He served as head coach of football and track during his four years at MVHS.
From there it was on to Jackson Heights and the home of the Cobras.
Now he takes on his next challenge while navigating more situations with COVID-19 pandemic precautions and regulations.
The Kansas State High School Activities Association has approved keeping the start of fall practices at Aug. 17. Competition schedules for some sports might be pushed back and other changes might be implemented, but the first day of practices is at least one constant right now.
“There’s been no slowly getting the ball rolling,” Witte said last week. “It’s not what you really want, but it has given us the ability to really get in and get going right off the bat.
“It’s that sense of urgency from Day 1 and really getting to work.”
Witte said there are many modifications the THS athletics department is working on to help minimize the risk of getting COVID-19.
“We’re taking a lot of measures to keep doing everything as safely as possible with those changes,” Witte said.
There also will be fall sports parents meeting on Aug. 13, but those meetings will be conducted virtually. Head coaches of fall sports — boys soccer cross country, football, girls golf and volleyball will lead those virtual meetings.
He noted that conversations also were taking place as far as what competition events might look like with fans and the various pandemic precautions, but those are still in the works.
Like any planning during the pandemic, it’s a moving target.
“We’ve had no positive cases this summer and that’s allowed us to continue to have our workouts,” he said last week.
As for his philosophies as an activities director, Witte said it’s important to shape the students’ lives as best educators and administrators can.
“For me, I feel strongly that we as a school need to provide as many opportunities we can for our students to be successful,” he said, adding that includes helping develop good life skills for the rest of their lives and having the focus on both academics and activities.
He said he’s eager to interact with the many new faces at THS.
“I do enjoy getting to work with our coaches and student-athletes and being part of the experiences also of debate, band and choir and scholars bowl,” he said. “The list goes on.”
He and his wife, Rebecca, who is the public information officer with the Department of Corrections in Topeka, have two children: a son, Layton, who is 8, and daughter, Logan, who is 6.