New year, new Nadira Ricks

Anna Arnsberger

When I met with Nadira Ricks, she had just returned from the DCIAA National Girls and Women in Sports Day luncheon. This is just one of the many opportunities she is able to be a part of in her new role as athletic and Title IX coordinator. Now over halfway through the school year, Ricks is adjusting well to her duties.

Because athletic and Title IX coordinator is a brand new position, Ricks has had to teach herself how to manage away from the familiar job of dean. Without any guiding systems already in place, Ricks’ organization is a major asset for both her and Athletic Director Mitch Gore. “I am very self-sufficient—I don’t need anybody to be over my shoulder to make sure something is done, so that makes it easier,” Ricks said. However, time still remains an obstacle despite her effective management. Between coaching basketball and overseeing other various afterschool activities, Ricks clocks in some 20 extra hours per week.

Nonetheless, she is grateful for the understanding she has acquired from the job. “I’m gaining a lot of knowledge about how to run an athletic department because eventually that’s my goal. I’d like to be an athletic director one day,” Ricks said. For her, it’s all about touching the lives of students through sports.

While Ricks’ focus is now geared toward athletics, she enjoys that there are some similarities with her former post as a dean of students. A bulk of her responsibility is to keep track of student-athletes both on and off the field. “I just shifted roles, but I still engage with students, I still have to talk to them about issues,” Ricks said. From following attendance and grades to greeting them each morning, she is still very much involved in students’ everyday lives.
But along with daily tasks like organizing forms and tracking student-athlete statuses, Ricks handles some long-term projects. She has put together a team that is making progress toward planning an end-of-year sports awards banquet that will be held in May. Though still navigating through the bylaws and budget to create a hall of fame, Ricks has ordered banners to recognize Wilson’s 18 championship teams.
One of Ricks’s main goals this year was to improve resource allocation. Largely because of this, each sports team now receives its own specific budget. Ricks and Gore previously met individually with every coach to discuss spending. She is confident that this new structure will help guarantee balanced treatment among all the sports teams.
Ricks said she is striving “to be transparent, to include our coaches, to include our students.” Part of the efforts to increase communication is displayed in the establishment of the Student-Athlete Advisory Board.

Ricks hopes that Wilson sports continue to set a high standard. “Sometimes people look down at a public school versus private school or Catholic school, and I’d just like to continue for us to be competitive,” she said. By elevating Wilson’s athletic program, Ricks wants to prove that public schools are deserving of resources, college recruits, and high-level competition. She also wants to expand the variety of available sports teams. “Everybody is not a basketball player, everybody is not a football player. Give everybody an opportunity to be a part if they like,” she said.
Ricks continues to look forward to attending as many athletic competitions as possible. Some of her favorites this year have been the field hockey team’s stroke-out victory against School Without Walls and the cross country championship sweep. She cherishes her new ability to show support for Wilson sports teams by cheering them on during games.

But what is Ricks’ favorite change in her new role? “I don’t have to break up a fight anymore,” she answered with a smile.