New D2 athletics director sets goal of elementary programming
Dave Hogan’s aspirations of playing Division I college basketball were benched by a ruptured disk and a dose of reality. So now the 59-year-old former special education teacher with the laughing blue eyes helps the next generation of athletes not just become great players, but great human beings.
“Division I athletes are rare,” Hogan said. “You look at eligibility criteria … the higher your GPA, the lower your SAT and ACT [scores] need to be. But if you can hit 1200 on your SAT or 20 on your ACT, things start to open up to you.
“You’re a coach’s dream.”
For 14 years, Hogan helped cultivate character, scholarship and athletic prowess as the athletics director at Harrison High School. In July, he segued his talent for building talent into the role of athletics and activities director for all 11,700 students at Harrison School District 2. He’s the first person to hold the title, said district Public Information Officer Christine O’Brien.
It’s a big job, but Hogan doesn’t flinch at it.
“There are talented kids who go to school in Harrison School District and some who chose to come to Harrison School District,” he said. “The success we’re seeing comes from the work ethic of those kids and their coaches.”
“School has got to be more than going and sitting in a classroom. It has to be more. Our elementary school kids go to school [and] do they work they have to do in the classroom. … We have to start providing [programming] opportunities for our elementary kids.”
A hardwood life
If there’s one thing that Hogan understands, it’s hard work. The native of Plainfield, Illinois, said he first took the court-side bench at 2 years old. His father was a basketball coach, and he was raised first watching and then playing the sport.
At age 14, he ruptured a disc while bending over to pick up a basketball. Hogan was diagnosed with the rare condition spina bifida occulta, and was told it was time to give up the sport he so loved. Nonetheless, the lure of college stardom didn’t wane, and Hogan returned to the hardwood.
But as he noted, Division I-caliber athletes are rare, and Hogan admits he wasn’t at that level right out of high school. He earned a spot on the team at Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Illinois, under the direction of then-Coach Bill Foster.
“He was a pretty powerful influence for me in making me a man,” Hogan said. “He told me like it was and I had to learn to deal with that.”
After graduating with an associate’s degree in general studies, Hogan headed to Northern Illinois University in the Chicago-area city of DeKalb. It was a less-than-ideal fit, and after a few years and some time away from academia, he headed to Southern Illinois University in the comparatively remote community of Carbondale, Illinois.
It was there that Hogan’s education pointed him in the direction of education.
“I wanted to be a PE teacher,” he said with a grin. “I took an intro. to adaptive education class and I liked it.”
With a freshly minted degree in special education and a minor in physical education, Hogan headed west. His travels took him briefly to Wyoming and then south to Colorado.
Harrison was the first school district in Colorado to which the husband and father applied, and he has called it home for 19 years.
“People gave me a chance,” he said. “People saw how hard I worked, that I’m [here] for the right reasons and … gave me the opportunities.”
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At the Harrison helm, Hogan had plenty of opportunity to see, first-hand, the impact that out-of-class programming has on in-class success.
Students who are involved in at least three extracurricular activities tend to have significantly higher GPAs than their less-involved peers, he said. And according to the advocacy group Americans for the Arts, students who take four years of arts and music classes average almost 100 points higher on their SAT scores than those who take one-half year or less.
And that’s part of why the award-winning activities advocate — his office is decorated with plaques and accommodations from organizations like the Colorado Athletics Directors Association — is committed to starting intramural sports and extracurricular arts programming for students as young as elementary school.
He intends to partner with teachers, community leaders, parents and area nonprofits to grow some existing models that bring after-hours fitness and arts programs to some of the district’s more financially fluid buildings.
“School has got to be more than going and sitting in a classroom. It has to be more,” he said. “Our elementary school kids go to school [and] do they work they have to do in the classroom. … We have to start providing [programming] opportunities for our elementary kids.
“There also has to be the band, choir, music, art piece for that.”
That’s a tall order; so what’s motivating it?
“I want kids to leave Harrison and be good moms and dads if they chose to have kids. I want them to be able to go out into the community and be good community members. I want them to be of service to others,” Hogan said. “Let’s do right by the kids. Let’s provide them with opportunities.”
He tapped a quick basketball metaphor.
“You only get one chance to pass to the guy who is open,” he said. “You don’t want to miss it.”