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'A dream come true': 1995 MAHS grad Reed returns as athletic director

By Jason Maddux

Posted 12/11/19

A 1995 Blue Raider graduate is the new athletic director of Middletown Area School District.

The school board Dec. 3 voted to hire Richard Reed as the new athletic director to replace H. Clifford …

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'A dream come true': 1995 MAHS grad Reed returns as athletic director


A 1995 Blue Raider graduate is the new athletic director of Middletown Area School District.

The school board Dec. 3 voted to hire Richard Reed as the new athletic director to replace H. Clifford “Cliff” Smith, who resigned as of Nov. 14 to spend more time with his family. Smith had been Middletown’s athletic director since August 2017.

“I'm just extremely humbled and blessed to be here,” Reed told the Press & Journal in an interview in his office Friday, which was his first day on the job. “This to me is a dream come true. I can’t say enough. I'm overwhelmed by the waves of support from the community and the alumni. This past week has been very, very nice.”

Reed comes to Middletown from Dulaney High School in the Baltimore County Public School system in Maryland, where Reed has been athletic director since 2013.

He will be paid an annual salary of $86,700. He will solely be the athletic director and not teach classes. There were 111 applicants for the position, and two were internal candidates.

“The district is pleased to welcome Mr. Reed back to his hometown and looks forward to him bringing his knowledge and experience to our programs to promote the continued success of Middletown Area School District athletics,” Superintendent Lori Suski said in a statement emailed to the Press & Journal last week.

MAHS sports career

Reed played basketball and baseball at MAHS and ran cross country. He said he enjoyed baseball the most. His coach was Scott Pettis.

“He’s still here. I saw him earlier today. I was just like, ‘Wow, it's come full circle,’” Reed said Friday.

He ran cross country for John E. Rowan II, who was a coach in the district for more than 40 years.

“I remember him from his yellow car ... I’m not sure it was a Lincoln or a Cadillac. It was legendary. You’d see it coming,” Reed said.

He ran cross country to stay in shape for basketball. One of the first days of practice, Rowan told Reed he had to run 3 miles, to downtown and back.

“And I said, ‘You’re nuts.’ I’d never ran that far in my life.”

But, Reed said: “I challenged myself a lot that season, and it was really neat as it turned out.”

He played basketball for Bob Heusser, the longest-serving boys basketball coach in MAHS history. Heusser coached for 18 seasons from 1979-80 to 1996-97 and amassed a 301-178 record.

“Coach Heusser was another legendary coach looking back. He was amazing. Watching coach (Brett) Myers play ahead of me, Dave Grabuloff, Terry Martin ... it was like, wow, those guys are a little bit older than me, but they were amazing.”

Brett Myers, now the football coach at MAHS, is three years older than Reed, and they were neighbors growing up.

Reed grew up on Few Avenue in a home that no longer stands, gone as part of flood remediation. His parents have passed away, but he said he has “friends galore” still in the area.

The MAHS athletic director while Reed was in high school was Irv Strohecker.

“He was a legend. You always aspire to be that person and be a part of something that big. To have that opportunity, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance. It’s been very serendipitous. It’s a true calling.”

While some faces are familiar, he said he will focus on putting faces with names as he relearns the district. The logistics for the winter sports are already in place, so he is looking to the spring and fall sports and examining any budget concerns.

“It’s not about me. It’s about the coaches and the kids. It’s kind of like an official. They shouldn’t be seen. So for me, it’s making sure they have all they need,” he said.

He remembers the games and rivalries well from his time as a Blue Raider.

“Anytime we played Lower Dauphin, it was a big event. Anytime we played McDevitt, it was a big event. Susquehanna in basketball was a big event,” he said.

Student-driven model

But more than just his time playing for MAHS, he said he remembers going to watch the games in which his friends played.

“Looking back at high school, it was important to go to your friends’ games. Those are lifelong bonds that stay with you forever,” Reed said.

He especially remembers attending football games. Another MAHS legend, Dennis Iezzi, was the coach at the time.

With that in mind, he said he wants to get the students to buy in, modeled by the coaches, to support all the sports.

“The thing I would love to introduce to Middletown is more student-leadership driven ... making it more collaborative across the board. We have a great football team. But I would love to see more of girls soccer, and how we all can contribute to that and make sure that the same amount of attention that is given to football is given to softball in the spring,” he said.

Reed was in the same MAHS class as Ben Olsen, now the head coach of D.C. United in Major League Soccer. Olsen retired as a player from D.C. United among the club’s all-time leaders in several statistical categories and had an illustrious career with the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team.

“Being in the same class as Ben Olsen was a lot of fun, in hindsight saying, ‘Ah, OK, you are that good.”

Olsen was “out of this world,” Reed said.

“People think he was just a soccer player. He was good at everything. Ping-pong, you name it, he’d beat you at everything.”

Reed said his job as athletic director is to “put the right adults in place” as coaches.

“Once we do that, you start seeing the fruits of your labor. You never know what athlete is going to come knocking on the door. You just build upon that success,” he said.

A look at Reed’s career

Reed was awarded as the Maryland State Athletic Director Association’s Athletic Director of the Year for District VI in 2013, according to biographical information provided by Suski.

Reed is a certified athletic administrator through the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association.

Before Dulaney, Reed was athletic director at Franklin High School from 2007 to 2013. He taught for 11 years at Franklin High School, where he started a forensic science course, according to a biography of Reed posted on the Dulaney Sports Booster Club website. He coached baseball, basketball and football while at Franklin.

He also taught biology, aerospace, and physical education while at Franklin. Reed is dual-certified as an educator in biology and in physical education.

Reed after graduating from Middletown Area High School in 1995 went on to Penn State University and earned a bachelor of science degree in biology. He later earned his teaching certification from Millersville University.