Bob McGuire’s going-away present won’t fit in a box. Not even a real big one.
“It’s something I’ve wanted for a long time. Turf field. New lights. New track. It should be ready by early November next year,” said Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School’s retiring athletic director. “That’s my baby.”
Part of McGuire’s new role at BH-BL is to make sure it turns out just right. He was recently appointed facilities coordinator for the district’s “Building our 2nd Century” renovation project which includes the new athletic complex where the football field currently exists.
“That’s been a dream of his,” said longtime Burnt Hills physical education teacher and girls’ volleyball coach Gary Bynon. “He’s a dreamer, and then he goes out and makes them happen.”
McGuire will be ending his 18-year run as BH-BL’s athletic director at the end of this school year to devote time to multiple endeavors. He will also oversee operations for the final year of the Carol White Physical Education Program grant the district received from the government in 2012. Burnt Hills was one of only 56 school districts in the national to receive a PEP grant ($1.7 million) to improve students’ overall fitness and wellness.
“Bob was instrumental in getting that for our physical education program,” said Bynon, who teaches at O’Rourke Middle School. “What it keeps coming down to with Bob is, ‘Look what he’s done for the kids.’ We owe a lot to him.”
McGuire, who two years ago was selected the Section II Athletic Director of the Year, plans to retire in September 2015.
“I’m changing administrative roles,” he said Thursday while watching a varsity boys’ lacrosse game between BH-BL and Queensbury. “I’ve had a good run as athletic director. Now there’s work to do in another area.
“One of my goals was to improve the facilities before I left. This gives me the opportunity.”
McGuire will be the local liaison consulting with architects and engineers during the construction of the new artificial turf field and eight-lane track. The Hoosick Falls High School and Springfield College graduate will also oversee the renovation of the high school wrestling room, fitness center and gymnasium, and the renovation of the gymnasiums at all three elementary schools in the district.
“I’ll be busy,” said McGuire. “On top of the facility upgrades and the work with the PEP grant, I will continue to observe our staff, and I’ve volunteered to mentor the new athletic director.”
McGuire had 13 years of experience as an athletic director at Hoosick Falls before coming to Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake. In his stint as the school’s fourth AD, BH-BL has grown to become one of the state’s most successful athletic programs.
“He’s put so much time into this program. He’s raised money. Sports have been added,” said Bynon. “We can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for the program.”
McGuire is modest about his work.
“I credit my staff. Any successful program comes from the people you work together with,” said McGuire. “They take a lot of pride in their job. They look out for the best interest of the kids. They make some tough decisions, too.”
McGuire’s current coaching staff includes 60 people filling 94 positions.
“He puts good people in place. He’ll let them go and do their thing, but he will help when they need it,” said Bynon. “It’s always, ‘What do you need. How can I help? What can I do for you?’ ”
Burnt Hills competed in 21 sports when McGuire arrived, and the Spartans currently field teams in 30.
“One of my goals was program development,” said McGuire. “Hal [former AD Hal Van Earden] did an outstanding job with this. As the district continued to grow, we’ve continued to grow.”
And excel. The Spartans have had 122 Section II champions and 67 finalists during McGuire’s tenure. At the state level during his run, BH-BL has had 20 champions and 17 finalists.
Burnt Hills earned the New York State Sportswriters Association Kerr Cup title four times (2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12), that award based on a point system for success at state competitions.
“This year, we’ll be up there again,” said McGuire. “We get them with depth.”
McGuire has driven countless miles to watch the Burnt Hills’ teams compete at the state level. He’s often made it to several events in the same day.
“He goes to those events because he’s proud of the program,” said Bynon, whose volleyball teams have claimed five state championships. “He should be.”
McGuire is proud of BH-BL’s athletic achievement, yet also the classroom work of its athletes. Three times Burnt Hills has been honored by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association as a Scholar-Athlete School of Distinction. The award goes to schools that have all of their varsity teams achieve a combined classroom average of 90 percent or above.
“No other Suburban Council school has ever gotten that,” said McGuire.
Burnt Hills received the Best in Class honor in 2013 from Coach and Athletic Director Magazine as part of its Interscholastic Sports Program of Excellence. Only six schools nationally were recognized.
“It was not based on wins and losses, but rather, the overall program,” McGuire said. “They looked at participation rate, sportsmanship, academics. That was a big feather in the cap.”
McGuire was a mover in creation of the BH-BL Athletic Hall of Fame, and in 2013 was a member of its induction class.
McGuire coached football, baseball and boys’ and girls’ basketball at Hoosick Falls. Three of his girls’ basketball teams reached the state final four, and his 1985-86 edition won the New York Class C title. He was tabbed the state’s top Class C coach that season.
A national search for a new athletic director at BH-BL will begin in the coming weeks.