June 15, 2013
One fond farewell for retiring Rutan
McGraw’s AD exits after 33 years
The first day of July marks the end of an era at McGraw Central.
It’s the day Kathy Rutan retires as the athletic director, teacher and coach at the high school after 33 years of loyal service to both the school and the community. Abe Johnson takes over as athletic director that same day.
Rutan is a native of Sherburne and a graduate of the University of Tennessee-Martin, where she was a volleyball teammate of Pat Head (nee Summitt). She has, in addition to coaching a number of sports including having a hand in the 2004 girls’ soccer team’s state Class D championship run, been the senior class advisor for the last 24 years and serves as the school’s athletic director for the last 20. She didn’t want any special attention paid to her and didn’t want to be interviewed for a story.
Some of her colleagues were more forthcoming.
Johnson, a Cortland High graduate who has been a junior high science teacher and baseball coach at McGraw for the last 11 years, noted: “Kathy has always been extremely helpful to me, especially when I started out and was a first-year teacher and baseball coach. There are always bumps in the road, and she was and is very understanding. I’m thankful for all of her support over the years.
“The thing about Kathy is that she always sees the best in people. There’s always a bright side. That’s huge when a season isn’t going your way or there’s a personal problem. She’s always there and sees the good side of things, which is a pretty great quality,” he added.
Bob Schlicht has coached the McGraw golf team for 26 seasons, also coached basketball and is a social studies teacher at the high school. He and his wife Joanne are long-time friends of Rutan’s. “Kathy really loves McGraw, and is really devoted,” Schlicht said. “Everything she did was heartfelt, and when that’s the case others take notice and recognize how much it means to them.
“She was always very motivated with things like fund-raisers and the soccer fields. She was very instrumental in organizing athletes to pick rocks. She’s very community-oriented and totally dedicated to McGraw, but has always deflected credit to others — coaches, parents, and students — while taking credit for nothing. Her character is first-rate.”
“I owe the experience of high school coaching to Kathy,” said Dave Law, a varsity soccer coach at McGraw for the past 10 seasons (boys for four, girls for six) after a number of years as a youth coach and one as boys’ varsity assistant. “She was always involved with the community as well as kids in all sports. Every time I went in to visit with her she was putting together transportation, or coaches, or officials. She wanted every kid on some playing field.
“She always demanded respect from the kids, which made them grow up in a hurry. And to her, it wasn’t just the scholastic programs. It was what happened in the off-season that helped make them successful. Even though she was a leader, she didn’t want notoriety. She just wanted to be part of a group that made something happen without the publicity, even though she deserved it.”
As for replacing Rutan as McGraw’s athletic director, Johnson said “I have extremely big shoes to fill. Someone asked me if I had 20 years in me, and I said ‘Let’s start with one.’ I’m excited for the opportunity and want to do things the right way by her. She put a lot of effort into it, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
“I think the transition will be smooth. She’s been good all year about helping me with things and including me in things. She’ll be missed. It’s going to be a big change without her around. I’m sure I’ll call her weekly with questions.”
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