Harkness new Bridgeport AD

BRIDGEPORT – When Doug Tush submitted his resignation as athletic director at Bridgeport High School last month, Superintendent Ted Downing wanted to fill the vacant, and vital, role as quickly, but as diligently, as possible.

After the position was posted inside the district and nobody applied, the search committee didn’t have very far to look for Tush’s replacement.

In fact, the decision was a no brainer.

Greg Harkness, who has served in several coaching roles in the district, was unanimously approved to fill the position during Tuesday night’s monthly board of education meeting.

“I think it’s a great fit for us,” Downing said of Harkness’s hiring. “Greg has been one of our coaches and he’s been active in athletics. He knows officials and also knows the ins and outs.”

Harkness, a 1993 Martins Ferry and 2001 West Liberty graduate, is no stranger to Bridgeport athletics, having coached the junior high volleyball programs for three years. He has also served on the boys’ basketball staff of Donnie Cash. In addition, he was an assistant girls’ basketball coach at Martins Ferry under Dave Reasbeck and Kim Appolloni.

“I’d like to thank Ted Downing and Rob Zitzelsberger for giving me this opportunity,” Harkness said. “I’d also like to thank Dave and Kim for all of their help over the years. I learned a lot from both of them. I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank Bubba Kapral for all of his help during my eight years at The Times Leader. He taught me how to deal with coaches, athletic directors and officials. I learned a ton from him.”

So what intrigued a Martins Ferry graduate about the open position?

“Even though I’m not a Bridgeport graduate, I’ve become passionate about Bridgeport athletics and the student-athletes,” he acknowledged. “I don’t think it will be that big of an adjustment. I’ve been around the school for three years as a coach, so I know all of the coaches already.”

Another aspect that will make his transition much smoother is the fact that Tush will still be around as he will continue teaching.

“I’ve got a good relationship with Doug,” Harkness admitted. “If I have any questions, I feel comfortable about asking him about anything.”

While Tush will continue teaching, Harkness is employed fulltime with Buckeye Pest Control.

“Not being a teacher and being around the school all day, coaches and other people will have to call me a lot more,” he noted. “I don’t think that will create any problems. I’m available by phone all day.

“I’m excited and I think it is a good opportunity for me.”

There was only one drawback. Being named athletic director means he had to give up his coaching career.

“That was a hard decision,” he said. “I coached for 16 years and I like being around kids. It’s the day-to-day things in practice and the lockerroom stuff that people don’t see. I’ll miss that stuff for sure.”

Cash was named junior high athletic director, replacing Karla Schambach who resigned.

“I think Greg and Donnie will work well together,” Downing said. “They have in basketball and I think they will both bring a lot of energy.”

Harkness and his wife, Jodi who is a member of the board of education, reside in Brookside with their daughter Olivia, who turned four on Monday.

The new position takes effect at the end of the current school year.

North can be reached at knorth@timesleaderonline.com