Glen Maisch, the Kingston school district’s director of physical education, health and athletics, has wound up his 37-year teaching career. He is looking forward to the next phase of his life. “I’m giving up the best job I’ve ever had to do what I’ve always wanted, to have a part in my grandchildren’s lives,” he said in an interview back in May.
Maisch, 63, and his wife Lillian (McGowen) have three daughters and six grandchildren, five boys and a girl, with another boy on the way.
School Superintendent Paul Padalino spoke to Maisch’s dedication during his 15 years as athletic director, four under his administration.
“Glen was a great asset,” Padalino said. “For me, new to the position, he was a wealth of information. He knows the history of everything in town, whether it be sports or otherwise. We’re looking for someone like Glen who was always trying to do the best thing for the kids, who really cared for our kids. That I’m having a really hard time replacing him speaks to the kind of job Glen did for this district.”
Maisch in turn says he respects Padalino “for what he’s accomplished here,” including the high-school campus renovation/construction project the superintendent pushed through two years ago. “I’ve worked under four superintendents, and none of the others could get it done,” he said.
Still, Maisch believes building anew with athletic fields on school-owned property in Lake Katrine was a better idea. “We have to transport 90 percent of our athletes from this site [Kingston High on Broadway],” he said. “Obviously,” he said, glancing out his high-school office window at a four-story building under construction, “we’re committed to this place.”
With Padalino, the board also instituted stricter screening mandates for volunteers.
Maisch runs a sprawling operation: over 800 athletes (out of a student body of 1,800), across 29 varsity sports ranging from football to alpine skiing teams, 66 teams in all. In addition, he supervises the office of health and physical education. His $800,000 annual budget, reduced over the years, includes $175,000 for transportation. Currently, more girls are playing sports than boys, he said. The income teams generate income from ticket sales are turned over to the general fund.
A hands-on manager, Maisch is a familiar face at high-school games. “I like to get to as many sports events as possible,” he said. “Twelve-hour days are pretty much the norm.”
Maisch hails from a well-known local “blue-collar working family” of eight children.
His grandparents and parents owned the former Costello motel in the Town of Ulster, where everyone was expected to pitch in. “My job was cleaning the bathrooms and the floors,” he said. “My grandmother would inspect. I learned to take pride in my work, but I knew I didn’t want to do that for a living.”
Maisch found his goal in life in eighth grade at MJM Junior High after transferring from St. Peter’s parochial school in downtown Kingston. “My gym teacher, coach Floyd McCormick, inspired me. After meeting him, my goal was to become a phys ed teacher,” he said.
At high school, Maisch, who participated in several sports, didn’t fully appreciate that academics would be the road to the future he had chosen. An indifferent student, Maisch, at his mother’s insistence, repeated his senior year at Kingston High School, graduating with a 72 average.
“My mother knew I wasn’t ready for college. I didn’t have the discipline,” he said. The extra year didn’t make much difference in his average or his attitude, he said. That came finally when he attended Ulster County Community College.
“There were smaller classes, a more intimate atmosphere. The teachers really cared for the kids. That made a big difference,” he said. Committed to study, he made dean’s list his second year at UCCC before matriculating at SUNY Brockport and then going on to graduate work at SUNY New Paltz.
As athletic director, Maisch preaches the priority of academics over sports to his coaches. “Coaches keep a close watch on their schoolwork,” he explained. “If they’re not doing the work, we’re here to help them, but if they don’t work at school, they don’t play, no matter how good they might be.”
As with many teachers now and then, securing a tenured position was difficult, though Maisch came into his profession at a time when local school enrollment was rapidly expanding. “In my early years I taught and coached wherever anyone would let me,” he said.
Maisch had five years of substitute teaching with stops at Onteora and Saugerties before settling permanently at Kingston, at a salary of $4,800 a year. He coached a variety of sports, football, wrestling, swimming, track and field, over a 20-year period. With decades of longevity, he’ll leave at $134,000 a year.
“The toughest thing about coaching is cutting a kid,” Maisch said. “I know what it feels like. I was cut from the swim team as a senior. Most coaches want to keep every kid, but it’s just not possible. Let me tell you, the parents take it a lot harder than the kids. I’ve had parents follow me into my driveway or call up in the middle of the night to complain.”
Maisch succeeded legendary athletic director Tony Badalato in 2011. “Tony told me [in 2009] that he was going to retire in two years and that he thought I was the best person for the job,” he said. “He also told me I needed to get some advanced degrees in order to qualify for appointment. Those two years were hectic, juggling my job, home life and school.”
He graduated with honors and is certified to be a district administrator. He credits his wife with “raising our daughters, probably a lot better than I could have.”
To complete the circle, one of the last head coaches Maisch recommended for appointment earlier this year was Nick Badalato as head football coach. Tony’s son was a star on his father’s championship football teams in the mid-Eighties.
Maisch said team records were important to him, but not the priority. “Coaches are first of all educators and they have to love kids,” he said. “You can teach a sport, but you really can’t teach love.”
As an example, he cited former football coach Jeramie Collins, whose teams suffered several losing seasons before Collins resigned to be replaced by Badalato.
“Jeramie did not have a great record (sub-.500 over seven seasons), but he was great with those kids. He did many things with them outside of football.” Maisch said. “As a volunteer firefighter [Spring Lake], he knew what community service meant. In those respects he was one of the most successful coaches we had.”
“It’s humbling to be associated with former Kingston athletic directors G. Warren Kias, Willard Burke, Bill Hurley and Tony Badalato. I am proud to have been associated with those names and for being able to serve the students of our community.”
Physical fitness has been a lifetime commitment, for Maisch, his family and his student charges. “It’s hard to believe, but because of obesity and its attendant issues this will be the first generation to have a shorter lifespan than the previous,” he said.
He intends to use some of his time in retirement working in areas of fitness and nutrition. Or he might teach at an area community college. In the meantime, he making plans with his wife for a houseful of grandchildren.