The Dream Athletic Director
How an AD Went Back to School After 20 Years
Anthony Amero is every school district’s dream athletic director.
His 23 years at Forest Hills demonstrate he is devoted to his school.
His back-to-back state titles show his work ethic is unrelenting.
His 2018 NFHS NIAAA citation proves he is committed to excellence.
And his 2019 “Sectional Best Coach of the Year” proves that his success is not just luck.
Anthony Amero is every school district’s dream athletic director — and his success seemed to pivot on a decision he made five years ago to go back to school.
You Can Call Me Coach
It didn’t take long for Anthony to transition from player to coach. At the age of 19, (before he got through his first year at Thomas College), he took his first job as a coach of an 8th-grade girl’s basketball team. Anthony spent three years coaching at Williams Jr. High School where he also put his business education major to work. “I got to help build the first middle school alternative education program. It was neat to be a part of that,” Anthony reflected on his early teaching experience.
After Anthony got married, the couple transitioned to Forest Hills Consolidated Schools in Jackman, Maine, just several miles south of the Canadian border. Their plan was to stay in the small school district of 150 kids for two years and then move to Japan and teach on a military base. But after nine months at Forest Hills, which openly invites kids through its doors from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., the community — and mainly, the kids — stole their hearts. The Amero’s bought a house and put down roots.
Anthony found his niche.
A Degree One Phone Call Away
After several years at Forest Hills, Anthony had collected a number of hats to wear for the school district: athletic director, teacher, varsity basketball coach, student council advisor, and senior class advisor.
Anthony had started his master’s at one point in his career, but commuting proved to be a challenge, and he never finished. He didn’t plan on going back to school, but at the age of 41, he realized he needed a master’s degree in order to get his administrator’s certificate. Anthony began his online search for a master’s in athletic administration, looking for programs recommended by NIAAA. He called several schools in the process, but there was only one school where the program advisor personally returned the call — that’s what we call the way of Grace.
“Dr. Johnson was the nicest man. He gave me all the time I could ever ask for on the phone. He answered all of my questions and laid out the program clearly. I hung up the phone and told my wife, ‘I think I found the program for me! And there have been no regrets since then!’” Anthony recounted.
Designed with an AD in Mind
“The MAA was beneficial in many ways,” said Anthony. The program not only met Anthony’s needs but also the needs of Forest Hills school. The project-based curriculum enabled him to update the school handbook, implement new programs, and get around to things that had been pushed to the bottom of his list as an AD. “It was meaningful work that helped improve my school. Some of my classes were even reimbursed by Forest Hills,” he said. Anthony also got positive feedback from his principal who once said, ‘You’ve been getting a lot done around here! I wish that there were more programs that were like that!’”
But there were other benefits for coach Amero. “The degree made me a better coach,” he stated. And the success his team found after he graduated would not disagree. (We will get to that later on.) One class project led Coach to implement “Camp Cottage” — a basketball camp for his team at his house. The Ameros put the boys up for the week and used the local college for practices. “It went from being about me and my course work to benefitting a group of kids,” said Amero. “They really nailed the curriculum on the head.”
The program took him about 2 ½ years to complete. Anthony loved the flexibility of the degree. He could load up on coursework during his free summers and take time off during his basketball season. “It’s geared toward your schedule, and that was FANTASTIC,” Anthony raved.
Grace that Keeps on Giving
The benefits of the program did not stop once he graduated from Grace. In fact, Anthony experienced quite the opposite: “Since I went to Grace, a lot of great things have happened for me personally,” he said. His graduation in 2015 preceded Forest Hill’s state championship title — a win Amero will never forget with a group of boys he had since kindergarten.
The success didn’t stop there. The team won a state title in 2016 and is now on a 44-game winning streak. Forest Hills is the smallest school to win a state title in boy’s basketball. ”If you stack up all the reasons these kids should not win a game, you could make a good case, but they’ve pulled it off,” said Amero. “It’s been neat to see our town put on the map because of the success of these teenage boys.”
In 2018 Anthony won the NFHS NIAAA citation which is given out to only eight athletic administrators nationwide each year. The next year Amero won “Maine’s Best Basketball Coach of the Year across all divisions, and then went on to win the Sectional Best Coach of the Year. And we know this is not the end of Anthony’s successes.
“The degree has put me in position for my next phase of life,” he said. The training helped him become an LTC instructor in Maine to work with younger ADs. “I tell everyone in my courses looking for a master’s in athletic administration not to shop around but to go right to Grace.” Looking forward, Anthony would love to teach at the college level.
And if he could choose to go anywhere for his next degree, there wouldn’t be a question in his mind; “I wish there was an athletic administration doctorate program at Grace. I would be knocking down the door to sign up.”
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