By Bill McCaughey
For The Fort Bend Star
In December, the Fort Bend ISD hired Rodney Chant as its new athletic director, succeeding Keith Kilgore, who had been interim athletic director.
Chant took over on Feb. 1. He earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education with a minor in speech from Howard Payne University. He also earned a master’s degree in mid-management from the University of Clear Lake. His wife is a teacher in the Pasadena school system, and they have two sons, a junior and a sophomore at Pasadena Memorial High School. His sons will continue their education at Pasadena.
The Star interviewed Chant after he had been on the job for one week.
Star: In the week you have been here, what’s the biggest difference between FBISD and Pasadena?
Chant: A big difference is the size of the district. Pasadena had five 6-A high schools and 10 intermediate schools. Here we have 11 high schools and 14 middle schools which means almost twice as many coaches and athletes.
Star: Where did you begin your career?
Chant: I graduated from Howard Payne University and spent eight years at Terrell High School where I coached just about every sport. In 2003 the Terrell football coach came down here to start up the Pasadena Memorial High School athletic program and asked me to join him. So, I have about 22 years of coaching and assistant athletic director experience. I started out at the middle school level and have been an assistant coach for football, baseball and basketball along the way. I believe I have a little broader experience by coaching the different sports.
Star: What are the first items on your agenda?
Chant: I will be visiting all our high schools and middle schools to meet the principals, coaches and the students. I believe in getting out to the schools and watching our coaches coach and our players play.
I need to learn the processes and procedures here. Fort Bend is known for high academic and athletic standards, and they have been very successful for a long time. I just want to continue to build on the foundation that Keith (Kilgore) built and continue to improve our athletic programs. I will also be looking at our facilities and seeing if there are any needs in that area.
On an ongoing basis, I will continue what has been done in the past by meeting with the school athletic coordinators monthly to keep informed on what is coming up. During the football season, I will meet with the football coaches on a weekly basis. Our assistant athletic directors will be meeting with the middle school coordinators monthly. All of us in the athletic director’s office will be attending as many games as possible. I think it is important to be accessible.
Star: How important are the middle school athletic programs?
Chant: They are very important, because for many kids coming in at the seventh-grade level, this is the first time they’ve been involved in sports and now is when the building of the foundation of a work ethic begins. This is when they are taught the fundamental techniques and the terminology that it’s going to take for them to be successful at the high school level.
If they are taught at the middle school level the proper techniques, such as throwing a ball or tackling properly, they will have a much better opportunity to improve as a player and be successful in high school. Then the high school coaches aren’t having to re-teach things such as how to block properly or how to take a stance properly.
Star: What can you do to minimize concussions and head injuries?
Chant: I believe the district already has a comprehensive program in place. If an athlete receives an obvious hit to the head, or if a coach thinks a player is not acting right, a sideline evaluation is immediately performed. If it appears the player has a concussion, he or she is immediately placed in the concussion protocol, and cannot return to action until a doctor certifies that the player is ready.
I have seen some new technology that may help record and track hits to the head. There are uniform sensors or mouth guards with sensors in them, but nothing has really been tested thoroughly yet. Then there is an issue of price. Will the benefits exceed the costs?
Star: Thank you for stepping out of your budget meeting to talk with us.
Chant: I should be thanking you.