Copyright 2014 Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC
All Rights Reserved
Corey Sigle followed what happened last fall at Coatesville, where the athletic director and superintendent resigned because of racist text messages allegedly between the two.
Sigle was dean of students and wrestling coach at neighboring Downingtown West at the time, and as he put it, with all the coverage the texting exchange received, it was hard not to follow it.
"It was shocking. I guess I can say that," Sigle said. "Anytime you have those kinds of things, it's not something good that you want to see in education."
Sigle has become a big part of the aftermath of that scandal. Hired as the Coatesville athletic director, replacing Jim Donato, Sigle is 21/2 weeks into the job and is tasked with more than just overseeing the school's sports teams.
He has to distance the athletic program from its low point.
"Obviously, I can't speak for what happened in the past. I don't have that knowledge. I wasn't a part of this district then," Sigle said. "But my pledge in moving forward is we're going to do things the right way. We're going to be transparent, and we're going to effectively communicate. That's one of my big things, to improve our communications to our community and to our students. At the end of the day, that's what matters - our students. That's what we're here for.
". . . If you operate with fiscal responsibility, you're transparent with the decisions that you make, and everything points back to the students, I think that you're doing your job."
Sigle (pronounced SIG-ul) started the job by initiating a needs assessment in the district to hear what others suggested.
He said he wants to improve communication through the school website and social media to those he called the "stakeholders" - administration and staff, students and their families, and others in the district.
He wants the department to be fiscally responsible. (The Chester County District Attorney's Office is investigating the Coatesville Area School District for, among other things, financial improprieties involving the athletic department. Sigle said last week that he didn't have "any knowledge of that.")
Third, he wants to look at athletics in the district from the seventh grade on up to smooth the transition from middle school to high school.
Jack Helm, Downingtown West athletic director, predicts Sigle will be a "rock star" within two years at Coatesville.
"I think with the three athletic directors that he's worked either under or around here at Downingtown, he knows the right way to do it, and he's going to do it the right way," Helm said.
The AD position is the first for Sigle, 37, and took him away from his roots.
Sigle wrestled for four years at the old Downingtown High and graduated in 1995. He also was an assistant wrestling coach at Downingtown and then Downingtown West for 10 years, before taking over the West program in 2010.
His wife is "a Downingtown girl," he said. His grandparents went to Downingtown. His father went to Downingtown. Ken Sigle, his uncle, was athletic director at Downingtown West.
Corey Sigle lives about a mile from West. He has four sons, ages 2 through 7, and another child on the way, and he envisioned working at the school while his children passed through.
He applied for the Coatesville job in the fall and endured four or five rounds of interviews, he said, and through the phases, his interest increased.
"The one thing that I can say about this community is athletics matter," Sigle said. ". . . These kids are supported. They have an entire community, an entire town that bleeds black and red, really behind them."
Sigle earned two degrees at West Chester: a bachelor's in health and physical education in 2000, and a master's in administration in 2008. He received a principal certification from Immaculata in 2009.
Sigle taught physical education at Downingtown West from 2002 to '11, when he became dean of students. As the dean, he oversaw student life, including clubs, and was in charge of discipline for two of the four grades, parking, security, and emergency procedures.
With Helm as AD for both Downingtown West and East, Sigle also acted as sort of an athletic liaison when needed at West.
Much of that helped prepare Sigle for the athletic director's job.
None of it, though, prepared the Downingtown guy for what he faced one day last week, when he checked on the Red Raiders' track and field meet against his former school.
"It's something that I'm going to have to make an adjustment on," Sigle said. "I'll root for West when they're not competing against Coatesville.
"This is where I am now, and these are the programs that I'm helping to move along."
For Coatesville's sake, he'll move them along in more ways than one.