It took very little time into a conversation with Hauser’s new athletic director, Tyler Phillips, to realize just how ecstatic he is to have landed at the home of the Jets.

“This is the greatest job I’ve ever had – bar none – and I’ve only been here since April,” said an enthusiastic Phillips. “People here are all about kids, and that’s what’s important.”

The route to Hauser was a rather circuitous one for Phillips. He was a former high school basketball, baseball, football and track athlete himself. Following graduation from Indiana University in 2008, Phillips secured employment as a teacher/coach at his high school alma mater – Mitchell High School near Bedford. From there, Phillips got a teaching job at Central Middle School in Columbus. While there, he served as the junior varsity basketball coach for two years at Columbus East under Brent Chitty. Phillips also said his interest in athletic administration was piqued during his time at Central, as he spent time volunteering to learn the many roles of being an athletic director.

“I shadowed (Central AD) Joe Bronkella,” stated Phillips. “Being an athletic director was the end goal for me.” 

From there, he went back to Mitchell to teach and coach both junior varsity basketball and baseball. Phillips said the reason for going back was that his grandfather had just been diagnosed with cancer and he wanted to see his grandson (Phillips) coach before passing away.

“I really felt like I should honor his wish,” said Phillips.

Phillips’s fourth stop in teaching/coaching came at South Spencer – which also served as his debut into coaching basketball at the varsity level. After two successful seasons there, Phillips went to Seymour to teach/coach varsity basketball for the following three seasons.

After gaining a variety of experiences from those five stops, Phillips was announced as Hauser’s athletic director prior to the beginning of this school year.

“This is similar to home for me,” Phillips said. “This is what I’m familiar with…”

Phillips was quick to add Hauser had been on his radar as a place he was impressed with for quite some time.

“As a basketball coach, I did a lot of scouting and got to know a lot of different people,” Phillips said. “I got to spend a lot of time at Hauser. As I became more and more familiar with Hauser, it was a place I circled as somewhere I would like to be if any opportunities ever opened up there.”

The new AD added that it didn’t take him long to recognize the uniqueness of the Hauser community.

“People here are sincere,” he said. “There are a lot of people at a lot of places that only offer lip service. Here, they want to see people be successful so they mean it when they say they’re here to help.”

Phillips, who received a master’s degree in athletic administration from Western Kentucky University, said life as an AD – and the variety of experiences/challenges it provides - is a welcome change for him.

"As a teacher, I always knew – for the most part – what I was going to do from day to day,” said Phillips. “Now, before I leave each day, I make a list of what needs to be done the next day. I still remember a time that I couldn’t get to that list until 12:30 or 1 p.m. the next day because it had gotten buried on my desk by things that had come up during the day.” 

In spite of things not always proceeding in predictable fashion, Phillips thoroughly enjoys his new position.

“It’s all about the relationships – with players, coaches, parents, community members, officials…,” Phillips said. “I love building those relationships. I get to deal with kids and sports all day. Why wouldn’t I love it?”

While there are many obvious noticeable duties to being an AD, there are arguably just as many behind-the-scenes detailed responsibilities necessary to performing the job at a high level. 

“It’s (being an AD) a lot like being a small business owner,” said Phillips. “You really have to learn how to finance, build a budget and be able to say ‘no’ to people when necessary.”

Hauser’s athletic program has been able to establish successful programs over the past several years and Phillips certainly plans to keep that tradition on the right path.

“I have found that success breeds success,” Phillips said. “The first step to sustaining the success is to establish longevity. We need to get people here that want to stay here. After you have the blocks in place, then you can start going vertical.” 

The other key to sustaining the positive momentum of the Jets’ athletic program - according to Phillips - is accountability.

“I’ll hold coaches accountable, the coaches will hold the kids accountable,” said Phillips. “Great things will happen as a result of that accountability.” 

As a coach, Phillips said he followed four rules that he learned under the tutelage of Chitty during his stint at Columbus East. He said those same four rules will be a point of emphasis for him as an AD as well.

“The first is that kids come first,” Phillips offered firmly. “Then come loyalty, a willingness to outwork everyone else in the room and to go home tired each and every day.” 

Phillips said the athletic motto at Hauser is “Serve first; Eat last”. He said it is imperative for the program to establish servant leaders, as that is where true success will be measured. It’s hard to say it any better than that.