During the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s Middle Regional Meeting Tuesday, Tullahoma High School received both the District 4 Athletic Director of the Year honor and the Class AAA A.F. Bridges Divisional Award for Sportsmanship.
Tullahoma City School’s Athletic Director John Olive was pronounced the winner of this year’s District 4 Athletic Director of the Year. Olive was nominated for this award by his peers, and it’s no surprise that he won, according to TCS Director of Schools, Dr. Catherine Stephens.
“John does so much in his athletic director role for Tullahoma student-athletes while also serving as head football coach full time,” Dr. Stephens said. “John can be found on the sidelines at many Tullahoma sporting events to gain a first-hand perspective on what his coaches and athletes need to succeed. He’s also there to root on those Tullahoma teams and has even been known to give students a social media shoutout now and again. His pride in all athletics shines when he speaks passionately about the positive impact sports can have on an individual and that person’s life trajectory.”
Since 2017, Olive has served in his athletic director position for the Tullahoma City School District. While he appreciates being the nominated individual, he said his award is an accolade for TCS as a whole.
“This is an honor that should be shared with plenty of others inside our district,” Olive said. “We’ve had so many gains over the last few years in our athletic facilities and so forth. Those gains have been a group effort, and I just happen to be at the forefront. I’m very grateful to be recognized as an individual, but I’m more excited that we were recognized as a school system.”
Heading into Tuesday’s TSSAA meeting, Olive said he was aware that he would be named the District 4 Athletic Director of the Year. However, he did not expect that Tullahoma High School would receive this year’s A.F. Bridges Divisional Award for Sportsmanship. Both Olive and THS Principal Jason Quick were on hand for the honor.
“This award speaks volumes about our coaching staff and our athletic programs here in Tullahoma,” Quick said. “Our coaches work tirelessly to ensure that our student-athletes are maximizing their potential on and off the field. This is an honor that all of our coaches should celebrate as they are teaching essential core values to our students.”
Schools that receive the A.F. Bridges Divisional Awards have had no reported unsportsmanlike conducts incidents during the previous school year. Additionally, award recipients display an overall positive effort to teach, expect and demand a positive atmosphere of sportsmanship at their particular contests. The schools that receive this award are nominated by local official associations and other member schools. Winners are presented a $1,000 check to go toward their athletic programs, trophy and a banner to display.
The A.F. Bridges Awards are given yearly to honor the TSSAA’s first executive secretary. He served in that role from 1946 until his retirement in 1972. Under his leadership, Tennessee athletics reached a level of excellence and competence that earned respect statewide. Bridges was known as a person of high principles who displayed firmness and fairness and the high ideals of ethics and integrity. He and several others helped establish the foundations of the TSSAA.
“This award tells you that our administration, our coaches and our athletes are all trying to do athletics the correct way,” said TCS Athletic Director John Olive. “Hopefully, we are teaching our young people more than just how to win contests. I’d like to think that we as coaches are also teaching things that our young people can carry with them throughout life. To me, that is what this award represents. This honor means that our coaches are getting our young people to do the right things, act the right way and approach contests appropriately. I think our athletes are buying into that.”
Now in her second year as TCS Director of Schools, Dr. Stephens has noticed first-hand how much of a positive impact the Tullahoma coaches have made on their athletes. She stated that influence starts at the top of the helm, with Olive leading the charge.
“John has devoted himself to ensuring that all Tullahoma athletes and coaches are provided with the necessary tools to succeed on and off the field,” Dr. Stephens said. “He provides training for all coaches, athletes, and families through A Better Way Athletics, a program he brought to Tullahoma City Schools since becoming athletic director. The purpose of this training is to ensure joy remains in competition and that each party knows the powerful role that they play in the athletic environment. Recently, John helped create a uniform code of conduct for all athletes, coaches, and parents to review and sign, defining conduct expectations and potential outcomes should certain behaviors arise.”
The A.F. Bridges Awards program honors individual schools as well as individuals who have shown exemplary sportsmanship. In total, 63 individuals were recognized, and as many as 27 schools from all parts of the state represent what is best in high school athletics.
Photos provided by TSSAA