By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Board of Education has hired Eric Kyles as the school district’s new athletic director.
The school district received several in-house applications for the athletic director’s position, and administrators had at first considered dividing the position into seasonal athletic director positions for fall, winter and spring sports, said Bill Yingst, district administrator, at the Colfax Board of Education’s August 15 meeting.
The athletic director position became vacant last spring upon the retirement of Colfax High School history teacher Wes Grambo, who had served as the district’s athletic director for the past 28 years.
Eric Kyles was one of the in-house applicants for the position, and he has agreed to serve as the athletic director for the entire school year, Yingst told the school board.
Kyles has an athletic background and also has coached before, he said.
The Colfax Board of Education unanimously approved a motion to hire Kyles as the school district’s athletic director.
In an e-mail to the Colfax Messenger, Kyles said he was appreciative of the confidence from the Colfax school board and the district’s administration in hiring him as the athletic director.
This fall, Kyles — a special education teacher who is originally from Oshkosh and graduated from high school in 1982 — will be starting his 14th year with the Colfax school district.
Kyles served in the United States Army for seven years as a calibration specialist, which is an electronics engineer who makes sure that pieces of test equipment used to test, measure or diagnose another piece of equipment are working within their specified tolerances.
“Mr. Grambo has done a great job over the past 28 years, and I hope to meet the standards he set with a quality athletics program in Colfax,” Kyles wrote.
“I have worked with Mr. Grambo for many years, and he has provided me with a wealth of information about teaching and working in athletics. He has been very supportive and helpful during this transition,” he said, noting that he also is deeply appreciative of Grambo’s “great example of professionalism and his leadership”
After working different jobs for a few years following his discharge from the Army, Kyles went back to school and graduated with a teaching degree from UW-Eau Claire.
His first teaching position in Colfax was working in the Academic Center, and that position led to his current position as a special education teacher.
“Participation in sports has always been an important part of my life. This love of sports led me to coaching. I have coached football at the college, high school and middle school levels. I have also coached track at the high school and middle school levels. As many parents do, I have also assisted with coaching youth programs that our kids participate in,” Kyles said.
“After coaching many different sports since 1993, I see working as an athletic director as the next step in my sports experience,” he said, adding, “I am very excited about the challenge of sharing my knowledge and leadership to provide quality programs that help give the youth of our community the opportunity to participate and excel in athletics.”
Kyles said he views athletics as a way to give students the opportunity for personal growth and to find areas where the athlete can have positive experiences to improve his or her quality of life.
“These positive experiences can create lasting memories and help inspire future athletes,” he said.
“In order to know who a person really is, it is important to understand where that person comes from. Everyone is a product of their environment, but your environment is only the starting point. It is what you do with the opportunities you are given in life and how you face adversity that determines who you become as a person,” Kyles said.
“It is essential for kids to understand, fairly or unfairly, that people will judge them by the choices they make and how kids respond to external influences in their lives,” he said.
The way that other people perceive someone “can either open doors to new opportunities or block you from those opportunities,” Kyles said.
Learning the skills that students will need to make the right choices and to be a productive member of society is of the utmost importance, he said.
“Participation in athletics can be a positive influence in a young person’s life and is a great way for our youth to develop a successful work ethic, learn important life lessons, be great team members and become excellent role models,” Kyles said.
“We want all students in Colfax to feel welcome to participate in activities at our school. Each student has only four years of eligibility in high school, and those four years go by faster than you think. There is a place for everyone in Colfax athletics, if you are willing to accept the challenge,” he said.
“The questions I have for the students of Colfax are, ‘what will you do with the opportunities you have before you to help you become the person you want to be? Are you willing to accept the challenge?’” Kyles said.