Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

“You have to walk the talk:” CCHS athletic director does just that

Gwen Poore is a multisport athlete who runs the sports department for Carbondale Community High School.

Gwen Poore was bound to embark on a career in athletics. After all, her entire family was involved in it in some way from the time she was born.

“My father played sports. My older brother played sports. My little sister and I both played sports. I was a three-sport athlete in high school…” said Carbondale Community High School athletic director Gwen Poore.

Being from a small high town in Kansas where her high school graduation class consisted of only 10 other people, Poore quickly learned the skill of leadership. During her sophomore year, Poore was named captain of the cheerleading squad along with leading the basketball team to a state championship as the starting point guard. The ability to lead others paired with the togetherness of sports were imperative on Poore’s journey.


“I think developing that leadership is probably what has helped me the most throughout my career… I loved the camaraderie…my best friends today are teammates from high school, and you just have a bond with them that you don’t get in the classroom,” Poore said.

Poore says this statement from experience, as she coached sports and taught before becoming an athletic director. She graduated from college with a degree in business education and taught business while also coaching various sports including volleyball, basketball, and track. The first female athletic director, Vicky King, commended Poore’s attributes in these roles.

“She was an excellent business teacher, and an excellent addition to our coaching staff,” King said.

Pulling things from her different experiences, Poore sees the significance of both jobs.

“I think teaching and coaching definitely go hand in hand in how you approach things. They are different because I feel like you have a deeper relationship with a student athlete that’s on your team,” Poore said. “That’s why they come to school…and they might like classes, but those coaches are the ones that keep them engaged.”

She actually left the high school momentarily as her husband Pat, who is a football coach, took a coaching opportunity in Minnesota. It wasn’t great news for those she left behind at Carbondale High School.

“We hated it when she left…that was a real disappointment for us because Gwen had gotten to be a big part of our school,” King said.


The school reached back out to Poore when they had a chance to bring her back which was very exciting for them. When King retired, she was confident in Poore’s ability to take the reins and handle the position.

“There was no doubt in my mind that Gwen could do that job. I knew that Gwen understood the time commitment for that job,” King said.

King was an athletic director for ten years before becoming a principal. With seeing workloads of both roles, she says that if the athletic director is doing their job correctly, they’re usually in the building until ten every night.

There are many things that the athletic director deals with on a daily basis, but one of them is working with student athletics. Poore spoke on the skills that they gain simply by being involved in athletics.

“These kids need to be involved in something. They need to have something that makes them want to come to school. They need to have something that makes them want to keep their grades up,” Poore said.

Although she has possessed titles of teacher, coach, and even assistant principal, Poore’s passion for athletics shined through and is visible to all around her.

“She’s about it. She’s about all these student athletes and all these coaches goes up and beyond to help them,” said her assistant athletic director Thor Hadfield.

King spoke of Poore’s capability of getting the most out of her coaches like when she coached.

“You have to walk the talk. And that’s what I see in Gwen. She doesn’t expect her coaches to do anything that she wouldn’t have done. But she has a very high expectation, she wants her teams to win… you have to be competitive to be in that role,” King said.

Poore’s several athletic director positions have allowed her to take away valuable skills. She student taught and shadowed an athletic director before stints at Elgin High School and a school in Minnesota before making her way to Carbondale. Now she is at her second stint at Carbondale High School after previously being the assistant principal. But her roots of being an athlete and the strong ties built in sports brought Poore to her true calling.

“Nothing can take away that experience with your teammates and your friends, your coaches, and I think that’s what made me who I am today,” Poore said.

Her involvement in sports since childhood has fueled her drive as an athletic director.

“She’s about all these student athletes and all these coaches, going up and beyond to help them,” Hanfield said.

Poore’s position as an athletic director is a busy one. Whether it is preparing for an athlete committing to a university or putting together the induction ceremony for the school Hall of Fame, Poore is working with a lot of different people in order to do her job to the best ability. One of her noticeable skills is patience.

“I see how she interacts with coaches…with kids…. She’s very patient. She’s understanding. And so I see that, and I try to mimic,” Hanfield said.

Anyone who comes to see Poore first passes through Hanfield’s office where he checks them in. But if the athletic director isn’t there, they resort to Hanfield who tries to be just as attentive and appeasing as Poore in her interactions.

“I try to be the same way…it’s impressive, you know, because there’s a lot of other places where coaches might walk in, and they just get shut down,” Hanfield said.

King talked about this trait that is significant for an athletic director.

“Coaching is not an easy profession…you have to keep coaches involved,” King said.

The value of patience displayed by Poore is imperative to her as she doesn’t have the typical background knowledge that other athletic directors possess.

“I wish I could do a better job with knowing all that past history of things and being able to discuss certain sports things that maybe you know, a male would have experience with that I don’t have experience with,” Poore said.

The two first female athletic directors for Carbondale, King and Poore, shared their experience as women holding this high position and if they felt they were treated differently.

“I never felt that… those male athletic directors just embraced me, and I didn’t really ever feel like they looked at me any differently. As a matter of fact, I felt like I had a lot of support from those guys,” King said.

Her successor shared a similar sentiment.

“I would say that I’m fortunate… I do not feel treated differently,” she said.

Poore continued to say that she might not know everything about sports, like calling plays or discussing certain topics, but brings other qualities as a woman that can cause her to look at things differently.

“I look at it from the eyes of, are we providing a good experience for these kids? Are they learning, are they developing?” Poore said.

Hanfield walked through a scenario where Poore’s passion stands out.

“Say we got a student athlete having trouble with grades. She’s gonna say ‘hey you need to get your grades up’. But she’s also gonna tell you how you do that,” Hanfield said. “If we had a student athlete who maybe has some emotional issues, you know, she’s gonna let that happen. But then she’s gonna also tell that student athlete how to handle that in the future, so it doesn’t happen again.”

King described Poore as the athletic director being an ‘ideal and perfect situation’.

“Gwen wants things done right. And I think if you talk to other athletic directors in the area, they would say that she expects things done the right way. And I always felt that way, too,” King said.



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