After administrative cuts several years ago began to stretch Elyria Catholic thin, the school decided some upsizing was in order.
Mike Wisnor, who has juggled the assistant principal and athletic director roles the past two years, will step down as athletic director and focus fully on his role as assistant principal after the end of the school year. He will also begin working directly with school president Andrew Krakowiak on strategic planning of school issues.
The administration team, which also includes EC principal Amy Butler, has decided to bring in current Lakewood athletic director Robert Thayer to head its athletic programs.
“We really felt we needed to strengthen ourselves administratively,” Wisnor said Wednesday. “We knew we had to bring someone else in for one of the two roles I was assuming and I had talked with Bob several times about the position. We all felt he was a great fit for where we are and what we’re looking for in the future.”
Thayer has been the Rangers athletic director the past seven years.
“I was planning on retiring from public education after the school year,” Thayer said. “So this was a great time for a change in my life. I’m very excited about this opportunity. The people I’ve met at Elyria Catholic have all been top shelf.”
Thayer began his teaching career in 1984 at East Liverpool High School, also serving as an assistant coach for the Potters’ football and wrestling teams. He earned his first position as head coach at Wellsville High in 1992, and led the football team to a 27-7 record over three seasons. The Tigers were the Division V state runner-up in 1994.
Thayer returned to East Liverpool as the head football coach and turned in a Hall of Fame career, highlighted by seven top-10 appearances in 10 seasons, and coached and won the Big 33 (Pennsylvania-Ohio State) All-Star game in 1995 and the OVAC (West Virginia-Ohio) All-Star game in 1998.
Thayer also spent one season as the football coach for the Westlake Demons in 2005.
The change from a Division I high school athletic program to a Division IV school may give Thayer more time to focus on the Panthers’ teams and players.
“I’m hoping so,” he said. “The job at Lakewood was so big, and I’m really hoping at Elyria Catholic I get to spend more time with the student-athletes. That’s one of the things I miss about being a football coach … spending time with the kids. So I think a little less administrative duties will allow me to have closer relationships with the student-athletes.”
Thayer said he became familiar with Elyria Catholic during Lakewood’s inaugural year in the West Shore Conference, and has talked with Wisnor and learned more about EC’s athletic and academic histories.
Wisnor, who coached the EC boys soccer team before becoming the athletic director, said he will miss the athletic attachment to the school but has no plans to resume his role as a coach.
“I don’t (have any desire) at this time,” he said. “I loved coaching and I loved being the athletic director, but I feel I’ve been called to serve the school in a different capacity.”