Spencer Sadler, the new Athletic Director at Washington & Lee High School, has some very large shoes to fill and it does not intimidate him in the least. He acknowledges his challenges like he views everything; logically, calmly, and intelligently. His diverse background has given him the insight needed to guide young men and women through the maze of high school athletics. Since arriving at Washington & Lee High School in 2016, Sadler has coached football, track and wrestling in addition to being the media specialist at W&L. He has over 20 years of coaching experience.
“I see my biggest challenge ahead as filling the void left by some prominent figures in our school. We lost three this year: Malcolm Lewis, Joe Taylor and Cole Vanover. All three played pretty significant roles in athletics for the school. I hope this year that we are able to play out the sports schedules that were carved out. Then, I hope I can pull that off without messing up too much. I am excited, as in anxious. I am excited to see how this year will play out with all that is going on and the demands of all the meetings and reorganizing to try and get projected seasons together. I believe in staying flexible. That is like a mantra of mine, and it is a reoccurring theme in my coaching. Bad things are going to happen. It is how you respond that is important. I just want there to be sports. I don’t want any major glitches. I pray that the transition is as seamless as possible from what Coach Lewis was doing to my tutelage.”
A former high school athlete, Sadler loves coaching. “There is a thrill about watching a game plan come to fruition.” He wants to expand promotion of D-1 schools to local students. “We have been quite successful in utilizing those schools with our students. The hardest sell is the level of trust a coach can give. You want to give them the opportunity to make the right choice.” The athletic director position has changed a lot in the past few years. Sadler hopes to encourage students to focus more on pre-test preparation, like utilizing Kahn Academy and College Board programs. He hopes to create a strong partnership with the Eagles Booster Club and with parents to find success for his young students.
Sadler has had a varied route to where he is now. He started as an English teacher, then got into the restaurant business and then back to teaching. While looking for employment, Sadler became dual-certified as a media specialist to better market himself. While attending a job fair in Pennsylvania, he had the fortuitous fortune to meet James Cook, who was interviewing applicants that day for the district. And the rest, they say, is history. “I wanted to work here [Westmoreland County] because I work with great people. I hope to retire here. I was tired of the city life, so now I feel like I can breathe easier and actually help kids find their way.” He is a graduate of Point Park University in downtown Pittsburgh and majored in English and minored in secondary education.
He has always been interested in becoming a teacher. One of his main inspirations was his seventh grade history teacher, Mike Rieg. His interest in writing and history came together in adulthood as he and Rieg worked on a book together on their hometown, called Indiana County Through Time. Sadler has also written three other books and has a fourth one coming out November 9. Called Absalom Hazlett: A Loyal Soldier in John Brown’s Army, it will be available for pre-sale on Barnes & Noble, Amazon, GoodReads, etc.
His favorite subject in school was English. “I was one of those strange kids who actually enjoyed writing research papers. As an English teacher, however, I was a slow grader who made way too many notations on kids’ papers. In some respects, I miss being in a classroom. I found managing a classroom exhausting, though. I was so easygoing throughout my career that principals gave me difficult students. I remember how football coaches would hand deliver players to my class. In a way, it was flattering, but it made for a short career in the classroom.”
Sadler attributes a great deal of his success to his wife, Stephanie, a data analyst for a healthcare provider. “My whole family has been very supportive of my career. As any spouse of a coach knows, there is a lot to put up with; late nights, cold dinners, dealing with young kids alone. It is a group effort, no matter what level the coach coaches. Then, there is the aspect of moving around. We lived in Pittsburgh, Virginia Beach, Indiana (PA), and now here. I even lived in Richmond a year while my wife held down the fort in Indiana. Also, she held it down during all of the extra years of taking classes and taking on student loan debt.” They have two sons; Morgan, a Physical Therapist for Mary Washington Hospital and Malcolm, who is a sophomore at Catholic University majoring in Physics and playing football for the school.
He is in for the duration. When asked where he would be in five years, he stated that “I had a pact with the district to open up the new library at the new building and make it an emblem of pride for the community and our students.” W&L welcomes Sadler to his new role as athletic director and his expanded role in the W&L family.