Brett Mar and Pat Riddlesprigger take over this year as co-athletic managers for the district. As the district expands students' involvement in Goal 2 -- arts, activities and athletics -- their role has become even more critical. Mar has been a P.E. teacher in the district for nearly 20 years and has coached cross country, track, wrestling, football, and baseball. Riddlesprigger worked at Edison High School for 19 years, coaching basketball, teaching business and was athletic director for eight years.
What are your goals in this new position?
Mar: I have many goals, including increasing Goal 2 participation in all grades and helping to build leadership capacity for our middle and high school athletic directors.
Riddlesprigger: Learn about all the moving parts to make district athletics move; listen to our stakeholders -- sites, ADs, leaders, plant coordinators, etc -- on how we could improve communication; and build relationships, capacity and trust.
What is the best part about the job?
Mar: Supporting and working with all school sites and also building relationships districtwide.
Riddlesprigger: Having the opportunity to work with a wealth of great people within the district from the Goal 2 team, high school athletic directors, site leaders and site staff, as well as district leaders.
Are there any new athletics initiatives in Fresno Unified that the community/families should know about?
Mar: One of our many projects has been to implement the new concussion protocol for our sites. With the assistance of many stakeholders and after many months of work, we are now able to see it put into practice.
Why do you think it's important for students to be part of athletics?
Riddlesprigger: Athletics has the ability to touch everyone from every background and I feel it provides students with life-long skills, ranging from learning how to work with others, how to deal with adversity, how to build character, how to be a leader, decision making, to name a few.
Given that you are both sports fanatics, do you root for rival teams? Does that cause tension in the office?
Mar: I have many teams I root for depending on the sport season. In the NFL, I have always been a fan of the Minnesota Vikings. No tension in our office since Pat's Steelers and my Vikes don't play each other!
Riddlesprigger: No tension, everyone in the office is a Steeler fan!
Who are your favorite professional athletes and why?
Mar: I don't have one favorite athlete, but I do admire professional athletes who give back to their communities through charities and giving of their time.
Riddlesprigger: Charles Barkley. Of course I enjoyed watching him play -- an undersized power forward that dominated during his time. However, I truly admired how he spoke his mind.
Who's the better athlete between the two of you?
Mar: Let's just say...the older I get, the better I was.
Riddlesprigger: Depends on the sport!