It was a long time coming, but Warren Hills finally approved Bob Lockhart as its new athletic director during Tuesday night's board of education meeting. He was among two finalists, along with an unnamed candidate from the Dayton, N.J. area, for the job.
Lockhart, a Warren Hills alum and former successful football coach, was turned down for the job at the end of 2010. The Warren County school instead hired Clegg "Buddy" Freund, who was removed from the building at the start of the school year. School administrators said that Freund, who was involved in a sexual assault coverup at Roxbury High School as its AD in 2003, resigned for "health reasons."
Lockhart said he attended Tuesday's meeting and was unanimously approved by the nine-member board.
"I'm just happy it happened," Lockhart said on Wednesday afternoon as he was headed to Lafayette College for football practice where he serves as the Leopards' tight ends coach. "It was something I've wanted and I'm excited to have the opportunity now."
Lockhart has some detractors on the current school board, which obviously made the smart decision this time to hire the man who should've gotten the job the first time around. The board would have looked foolish a second time to turn down a Warren Hills icon and a stand-up guy with high values.
Despite being passed over a year ago, Lockhart held no hard feelings and said he only has love for his alma mater.
"It's a place I always wanted to be," said Lockhart, a 1977 graduate of the Warren County school and former teacher. "My feelings the whole time never changed. It's a great place to work. I always enjoyed being at Warren Hills."
During Lockhart's tenure as football coach, he guided the Blue Streaks to their only sectional championship in 2000. He also served as the school's assistant AD under former boss Nick Holgash, who retired in 2010.
"The most rewarding part about coaching is seeing all the men and women you coached and what they turn out to be," Lockhart said.
Lockhart will resume duties as the AD effective Nov. 21. Interim AD Sal Patti has done an excellent job despite poor health issues. Patti, a former AD at Voorhees, is a true gentleman and should be applauded for his efforts under very difficult circumstances.
Longtime secretary Joan Duryea also stepped in between and basically ran that office until Patti came aboard. The school also owes her a ton of thanks.