What does the athletics administrative assistant do?

The thrilling action of high school sports has nothing on the Hinsdale Central athletic department.

Just ask the department's administrative assistant, Wanda Swik.

"Everything is crazy in here," Swik remarked early this week above the relentless din of cafeteria construction work across the hall. "Now we have summer camps, and we're limited in summer camp space because the fieldhouse is getting worked on. It never ends."

From arranging team transportation throughout the school year to staying on top of all the office financials, she rarely gets a timeout.

"I have to make sure that everything is running smoothly - that we have officials, that we have buses set, we have people working (the games)," Swik explained.

Bringing clarity to confusion is her specialty, and her colleagues have taken notice. Swik was recently named Administrative Assistant of the Year by the Illinois Athletic Directors Association.

"I was shocked. It was an honor," said Swik, quick to express praise for her counterparts at other schools.

"I give credit to all the AD assistants because it's been a tough year," she said. "Every AD secretary deserved it this year."

Navigating the last two years of COVID shutdowns and then ever-changing safety protocols tested her logistical problem-solving mettle like never before. Her diplomatic skills also got a workout when game attendance had to be limited.

"If you didn't have a pass, you couldn't come to the event, so that got a little complicated," Swik related with a chuckle.

She joined the Central staff 20 years ago, first as student activities assistant before moving into her current post 11 years ago.

"I would help the AD secretary, and it kind of naturally happened that, when she retired, I thought, 'Oh, I could do that,' " Swik related.

The position has evolved since then, especially in the technology sphere. But she's learned that adaptability is part of the gig.

"You just go with the flow," she said. "I'm just kind of an even-keel, 'Is this what you want me to do? OK, I'll do it.' "

There was plenty of ebb and flow this past spring as wet, chilly weather and a shortage of game officials and bus drivers posed new challenges. It didn't phase Swik, who strives to provide the best experience possible for all stakeholders.

"The coaches are great, the parents are great, the kids are great," she said. "We all work well together."

Hardware from the latest Red Devil state achievements are stacked in several corners of the office awaiting a permanent home, testifying to Central athletics' pedigree. Renovations have brought forth new facilities, while grads from decades past continue to show their support. She interacts with many working the ticket table at football games.

"You have the alumni come up to you and tell you what year they graduated. It's just great to talk to them," said Swik, who's not yet ready to "graduate" from Central herself. "I could retire at any point at this time, but I enjoy my job too much."

- by Ken Knutson

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean