New era of athletics dawns at Lincoln Charter
DENVER – Daniel Schmitz hasn’t spent a day yet as athletics director at Lincoln Charter during a school year.
But Schmitz is spending the offseason working to make his presence felt throughout the Eagles’ program.
He was promoted from assistant athletics director in June, but Schmitz said work began at his new post prior to his official appointment. Lincoln Charter’s previous athletics director, Jonathan Bryant, is now the school’s assistant chief administrator.
“I began transitioning before the end of the school year,” Schmitz said. “(I was) handling duties like referencing, field maintenance and scheduling.
“So I felt ready once I started.”
Schmitz takes over the Eagles’ top athletics job at a key point in the 14-year-old charter school’s existence.
Bryant has been the Eagles’ A.D. since 2007. Prior to coming to Lincoln Charter, Bryant ran Saint Mark’s Catholic School’s program for three years.
Lincoln Charter had its most successful season as an athletic program in the 2011-12 school year. Five teams qualified for the Class 1A postseason: softball, baseball, girls basketball, swimming and track and field.
“Without a doubt” the previous season’s accomplishments made it the best year in school history, Schmitz said. “I looked at our results across the board and they were impressive,” he added.
Schmitz’ new challenge? Continue the momentum.
Bryant said he feels the 28-year-old Schmitz is the right man to lead the Eagles’ efforts of sports expansion and sustained success.
Schmitz figured his job would always be academic when he began at the school in 2007.
The Scranton, Penn., native came to Lincoln Charter with his coaching experience limited to running an AAU basketball program in his home state. He planned to teach history and limit his sports involvement to watching on television and helping with the Eagles.
That turned into a gig working with the Eagles’ middle school boys basketball and boys golf teams in 2008. Schmitz has also spent time coaching baseball, basketball, soccer and tennis at the high school level.
Schmitz said his plan for building what he called “a new tradition” at Lincoln Charter has already begun.
“Our programs are centered around our coaches (in the sense of leadership),” Schmitz said. “I’m not trying to steal anyone’s thunder. I’m here to help the coaches.”
Schmitz plans to maximize the Eagles’ success by bringing along new projects at a step-by-step rate. He said the school plans to implement as many competitive junior varsity teams as possible in the coming years.
Football is a subject that was tossed around during Bryant’s tenure. But lacrosse is a much more likely addition.
Schmitz and Bryant agreed that sports expansion is a good thing, but doing it at the pace the Eagles have – adding new sports when possible without starting too soon – is the best plan.
“Some charter schools in the state have endured more growing pains than we have,” Schmitz said, “because they tried to take on a lot very rapidly. We added swimming and track recently, but not without a lot of studying and surveys of community people to show we had enough support.
That’s the way I still want us to operate: moving forward at a solid pace every year.”
Schmitz will have two new coaches alongside him to aid in that process: baseball coach Mike Hartshorne – formerly the coach at rival Pine Lake Prep – and softball coach Taylor McGee, a recent graduate and former softball player for Campbell University.
Bryant said the pair of new hires and Schmitz’ promotion should help the school not only in athletics administration, but also promoting the sports to LCS students.
“I’m excited to see what comes next,” Bryant said.