FDSH search under way

The process of finding a new Fort Dodge Senior High athletic and activities director began the day Tom Kinseth announced his retirement.

The school district is acting prudently in its search to replace Kinseth, who will officially step aside on June 30. There is no official hiring deadline, but FDCSD superintendent Doug Van Zyl does hope to see some overlap between Kinseth’s departure and his successor’s arrival.

”First and foremost, we’re simply trying to find the right person for the job,” Van Zyl said. ”Ideally, there will be some time flexibility so that (Kinseth’s replacement) can sit down to talk with Tom and see how things are done.

”We have state softball and state cross country here, along with a number of regional and district events (annually). It’s a unique opportunity given the size of our community, but it is also a tremendous responsibility in addition to the position’s day-to-day requirements.”

Van Zyl confirmed that a search committee has been formed and has been working together for the better part of the last month. There will be no biases based on current ties to the community.

”There are pluses and minuses either way,” Van Zyl said. ”The challenge of hiring someone from within the district is that relationships with others, both good and bad, have already been established. The challenge of hiring someone from outside the district is the learning curve that person would face, especially given the additional requirements of the position.

”No matter where they come from, we want someone who understands and embraces both the athletic and activity side of Fort Dodge Senior High and its kids. It’s not just about building strong relationships with the staff and the community, but our students as well.”

Kinseth’s replacement will be just the sixth FDSH AD since 1924. Fred Cooper (1924-45), Forrest Marquis (1945-65), Dutch Huseman (1965-87) and Don Miller (1987-2002) preceded the 56-year-old Kinseth.

Of the 19 current Central Iowa Metro League members, Fort Dodge is currently the third smallest enrollment-wise – ahead of only Des Moines Hoover and Indianola. West Des Moines Valley, Ankeny, Des Moines East and Des Moines Lincoln all have at least twice as many students as FDSH.

Van Zyl said that while remaining competitive athletically is a priority, there is a certain amount of necessary realism given the current landscape.

”Winning is great, but there are always going to be more important things – good sportsmanship, honor, respect, hard work and doing things the right way, regardless of the outcome of your games or seasons,” Van Zyl said. ”We want our kids to stay involved and participate in as many sports or activities as possible. The mindset these days is often to specialize in one or two things, which makes it much more challenging for our coaches compared to the bigger schools in our conference.

”As long as there is good leadership and communication from the top position on down, I am confident that the commitment and dedication from our community will be there for the person who is taking over.”