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One-on-one with CCHS’ new AD Wayne Alston

Wayne Alston
Cambridge College alumni Wayne Alston, new district director of athletics for Colleton County School District (photo: The Press and Standard)

The Colleton County School District announced mid-June the hiring of Wayne Alston [MEd '09] as the new district director of athletics for 2019-2020. Alston replaces Leon Hammond who resigned the same position in the spring.

Alston was most recently employed with Beaufort County School District as the athletic director at Battery Creek High School from August 2018 until July 1, 2019. His responsibilities there included budget, athletic schedules, eligibility, fundraising, program promotion, internal transportation, facility maintenance, emergency action planning and duty assignments. Prior to his contract with Beaufort County, Alston worked in Rock Hill as a guidance counselor and coach from 2012-2014 and held similar positions at Burke High School from 2010-2012 before returning in 2014-2018

A graduate of Mullins High School, Alston received his undergraduate degree in social work from Winthrop University in 2004. He obtained a master’s degree in school counseling from Cambridge College in 2009.
His athletic experience includes serving as an assistant middle school football coach at Saluda Trail Middle School (three years) where they earned two middle school conference championships. Additionally, he was the head basketball coach for the seventh-grade team (three years) and led them to a middle school conference title. As the middle school track and field coach at Saluda Trails/Castle Heights, Alston claimed two conference championships.

At Burke High School, Alston served as the head varsity basketball coach (six years), JV basketball coach (three years) and assistant varsity coach (two years.) During that time frame, Alston’s teams captured three undefeated conference titles and made a lower-state playoff appearance. He was named three-time Region Coach of the Year and had five players selected to All-State. He served as the head track and field coach for six years and JV coach for four years, sending a student-athlete to the state title competition in nine of those years.

While serving as the athletic director for Burke High School, Alston’s staff produced two state championship basketball teams, one state championship wrestler and earned three sportsmanship awards.
Alston worked under current CCHS principal, Maurice Cannon, while at Burke High School.

What interested you in the position of district athletic director for Colleton County?
The position of district athletic director is held in high honor amongst coaches and athletic related individuals throughout the state. Many people work for years and never achieve this opportunity. And being able to accept this responsibility for Colleton School District is even more of a plus. Colleton County has so much potential and reminds me of other districts I have worked in previously. Colleton athletics is on the verge of greatness. I really wanted to opportunity to work with the coaches, athletes, community and spectators on enhancing the experience. The title of district athletic director means I will be able to share my vision with the entire district.

Where did your love of sports begin?
My love of sports began when I was a child growing up Piscataway, N.J. My parents understood the importance of sports in teaching character, promoting strong academics and extending the structure I received at home.

At the age of 6, my first love was soccer. That was my first chance to show my athletic ability and love for any sport with a ball. I would spend countless hours driving my parents crazy dribbling, bouncing, throwing or kicking a ball against the walls in the house. So, I was confined to the basement where I had a radio, TV and space. They eventually drowned out the noise, and although it drove visitors to the house crazy, my mom understood that sports were a part of me. If my grades were good (nothing lower than a B,) I was able to play as many sports as my body could handle.

How do your early beginnings translate into your plans as the new district AD?
I feel that this sets the tone for my approach to athletics. Whether competing, coaching or leading, I honestly feel that the concept of “always in season” has stuck with me. We prepare, analyze, practice, compete, recover and repeat. My goal is to help student athletes understand that if they are serious about competing at the next level, they must take this approach to not only academics and athletics — but in all that they do.

When will you officially take over the position and what transition plans are currently in place?
I began in my official capacity July 1. Coach Hammond has been great in the transition process. We have met and spoken several times concerning what is already in place and plans for the future of Colleton athletics. I have had a chance to meet with Mr. Cannon and Mrs. Glover and am excited about the opportunity to work with them.

Attendance and community support have suffered recently, especially in football, how will you work to improve community participation and support in all sports?
In speaking with Coach Hammond, he informed me that last football season attendance was not great. Largely due to weather factors, which were out of everyone’s hands. Games had to be delayed or locations changed; this being a big blow to the athletic department. First thing I will do is pray for good weather. Next, after I have a chance to analyze the athletic schedules and meet with stakeholders (students, coaches, community members and business sponsors) I will be able to identify some things that need to be in place. I hope we can enhance the overall experience for the fans by making each game an event that people look forward to attending.

Transparency, open channels of communication and a network of readily available information are all things parents and students have identified as important moving forward. What goals have you begun to develop for improving communication between the athletic department and the community?
One of the first things that I will be working on is making our website is more user friendly. The website, Colletoncountycougars.com is a great resource that can be better utilized to answer many of those concerns. I want everyone to be able to see on the site the athletic handbook, NCAA information, required athletic forms, access links to family ID and more. One of the great things about the website is it lets everyone who is linked to our Facebook and Twitter know when we post something.

In addition, I will also be working on developing an Athletic Advisory Council — one for students and one for parents. The council’s primary responsibility will be to work with the athletic department in making sure that information is getting to all involved. The students will be able to work with the athletic department on enhancing the overall game experience and to assist in their leadership development.

Obviously, the hiring of coaches is an important role for the AD. How important is it for you to put qualified candidates in place and what are a few key things you look for in your coaching staff?
I do believe that hiring qualified candidates is very important to any athletic department’s success. Hiring for school districts are always tricky as we must balance between having qualified staff in the building and being able to develop relationships with the students in the classroom and on the field. I plan to work with the administration at both schools to make sure we have the right balance.

How important is establishing a good working relationship with the Cougar Booster Club and how do you plan to work together for the betterment of the Cougar Athletics?
I believe it is very important. The booster club is an essential piece to the success of every athletic program. The booster club is just that, a group of people who boost the experience for the athletes and the fans. I hope to develop a great relationship with the booster club so we can make sure we are servicing the needs of all our student-athletes.

Booster clubs do so much more than just concessions. They are our liaisons to the community of all the great things that we are doing at the school and within the department. I want to make sure that we have more representation from each athletic team on the booster club. I will be encouraging each coach to have at least one parent join the booster club and attend meetings regularly. I would also like to have coaches attend monthly meetings so that everyone is able to come together in a common place to discuss needs for each athletic program and the department.

What are some of your initial thoughts on ways to improve fundraising within the athletic department?
One thing that I would love to do is make homecoming an event to remember and draw alumni. I will be working on a homecoming committee to work on things that we can do to raise funds for the athletic departments and create an atmosphere that has everyone wanting to come home to attend.

Being athletic director is obviously a labor of love and extremely time-consuming. How do you intend to balance everything?
I am a family man who really enjoys my time with my family. I enjoy taking trips to unwind and attend family functions, so we can keep our family bond strong.
As the athletic director, it is important for me to plan. Not coaching allows me more time with my family as I am not traveling to and from every game. I always make it my business to attend as many games as possible. I will be working on hiring an assistant athletic director for the high school and the middle school to make sure we have a game manager on duty at all home events. I will have set times people will be able to contact me concerning athletic related business.

As for my interests and hobbies, I love to travel when time allows. Whether a road trip or catching a plane, I think it is important to experience different places, cultures and methods of relaxation. I do plan to take a trip to Africa and/or India with in next two years. I also love to fish. I love surf fishing and use this time to relax. There is something about being around the water that is very relaxing to me.