On the job trainingPublished 5:59pm Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Halfway through his first year as the new athletic director at Dowagiac, Brent Nate has learned many things.
The most important of which is that this is where he belongs.
That really wasn’t a question when he decided to take the job. A life-long Chieftain, who graduated from Union High School in 1997, he wondered how quickly he would adjust to the new position.
According to Nate, he is feeling right at home.
After graduating from Dowagiac, Nate headed to Western Michigan University to earn a degree in business education. Having played sports in high school, Nate wanted to remain involved in athletics.
He turned to coaching.
He began coaching the boys varsity basketball at Coloma, where he was a teacher for eight seasons before stepping down. He was an assistant for former Dowagiac coach Greg Blomgren at St. Joseph last season.
Although he was happy teaching at Coloma, Nate jumped at the chance to return to his alma mater and to athletics.
“The opportunity presented itself, and it was a chance to come back home,” Nate said. “I was happy doing what I was doing. I was pleasantly surprised when I got the job.”
Teaching and coaching helped prepare Nate for his new position. He also felt that knowing the coaches on the staff and being from the community also made his transition easier.
“I knew all those coaches, and I also knew I was going to get a lot of help from Jodi (Badder, Dowagiac’s athletic secretary),” he said. “The support from the coaches and the community has been great.”
While no agenda has been set, he did say ideas were discussed concerning the future of athletics in Dowagiac. The school district is looking at putting a bond issue for a new high school up for a vote and that could result in plenty of changes to the current facilities.
“They threw some ideas out there, but there is no set agenda,” Nate said. “There are things I want to accomplish, but, with the bond issue out there, we will have to wait and see what happens.”
While he didn’t know what to expect from his new job, Nate said every day is different and full of surprises.
“I mean that in a good way,” he said. “I enjoy challenges. I like getting to know people on a personal level.”
One of the things he felt most comfortable with is something he has to deal with on a regular basis — game management.
“I felt like that was my strong suit,” he said. “Being a coach and a referee, I know what has to get done on game day. I had to help with game management at Coloma as a coach. So I felt pretty comfortable with that aspect of the job.”
Even while he was away coaching and teaching in another district, Nate always kept an eye on what was going on in his hometown.
“Being from Dowagiac and living in Dowagiac, I have always kept up with it,” he said. “So I had a pretty good idea of what I was going to be dealing with when I took the job. Even though I was sporting other colors, I kept an eye on what the orange and black was doing.”
Being a Chieftain through and through, Nate knows his position in Dowagiac is one that will be long lasting.
“I grew up here, and I have lived here,” he said. “This is not a stepping stone. I don’t plan to leave.”
Nate is married to Gianna and has a daughter, Ava.