Former Upper School Athletic Director Ken McNish resigned before spring sports started. The community was informed of the decision on Mar. 31 in an email from Director of Athletics Dawn Wickstrum. Wickstrum wrote, “Ken McNish has resigned his post as Upper School Director of Athletics, effective immediately. Ken, who came to SPA from North Carolina, has been with us for two years, and we appreciate his work with our teams in the Upper School during his time with us.”
I feel like I am more so shocked because I wasn’t really expecting it. […] I thought he was integrating well into the community. I played basketball for a little bit, and he would always come to our practices and cheer us on, so I guess I’m more shocked than happy or sad.Naysa Kalugdan
McNish joined the SPA community in 2020, amidst the pandemic, specifically the time when all students were distance learning full-time. He said in an interview, “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. We just keep it moving and try and do the best that we can.”
Wickstrum described the position as the face of the athletic department. Wickstrum said, “Ken’s role was working with coaches to make sure they had what they needed.” McNish frequently visited competitions and communicated non-stop with student-athletes, coaches, and parents to ensure satisfaction and that everyone was supplied with the resources they needed to coach, compete, and support.
Junior Naysa Kalugdan said, “I feel like I am more so shocked because I wasn’t really expecting it. […] I thought he was integrating well into the community. I played basketball for a little bit, and he would always come to our practices and cheer us on, so I guess I’m more shocked than happy or sad.”
During his time at SPA, McNish has worked to fight racist, homophobic, and other offensive remarks at student competitions. Most students heard from McNish through his emails, addressing negative situations and comments made at games and educating the community on being respectful spectators. His emails also frequently invited students to join sports they otherwise wouldn’t have and encouraged people to attend games and support peers. He started the captain’s council, where each season’s captains would meet once a week to learn leadership skills and work through problems they were facing on their team.
Senior Val Chaffee said, “I really only actually spoke with Mr. McNish this year because I was a captain of the fencing team, and I went to Captain’s Council. I thought his enthusiasm for every sport was great, and I found him to be very involved in how the sports were being run, but not necessarily as involved in knowing how sports work. […] He was certainly passionate about the people on the team.”
The athletic department has hired someone to fill the position temporarily, and until they start, Wickstrum has picked up the pieces to keep the athletic department moving. Since McNish’s resignation, the committee to decide on the position’s candidates has been formed, but the process is still in its infant stages.