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Smith stepping down as Middletown athletic director, candidates to be interviewed soon

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 11/6/19

H. Clifford “Cliff” Smith, Middletown Area School District’s athletic director, is leaving the position after less than two 1/2 years on the job.

Smith, who started here in …

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Smith stepping down as Middletown athletic director, candidates to be interviewed soon

Posted

H. Clifford “Cliff” Smith, Middletown Area School District’s athletic director, is leaving the position after less than two 1/2 years on the job.

Smith, who started here in August 2017, at the beginning of November submitted a two-week resignation notice effective Nov. 14.

He has accepted a private position in sporting goods sales that will allow him to spend more time with his family, Smith told the Press & Journal in a phone interview Nov. 6.

The school board approved Smith’s resignation during its Nov. 6 meeting.

The district plans to bring a recommended candidate to replace Smith before the board in early December, following interviews that are expected to take place before Thanksgiving, Superintendent Lori Suski told the Press & Journal.

The district has received applications from within and outside from candidates interested in becoming the next athletic director, she said.

“Cliff has done a great job serving as the district’s athletic director since the 2017-18 school year,” Suski said in an emailed statement. “As you can imagine, an athletic director has to work many evenings and weekends, and the job is often taxing on those who have young families. We all wish Cliff the best in his new endeavor.”

A native of Portland, Maine, Smith went in rapid succession from being a professional baseball pitcher to 11-plus years of coaching baseball at Elizabethtown College, where he also became assistant athletic director, before becoming Middletown’s AD in August 2017.

Every position he has held since graduating from Brandeis University in 2001 have been jobs with “non-traditional hours” involving a lot of work on weekends and weeknights, Smith said. He missed a lot of weddings playing baseball, and things haven’t really slowed down since.

“I just want more time at home with my family,” Smith said. “I have two young sons, one 9 (Hudson) and one 6 (Grady) who are reaching the point where they are becoming more involved in activities. I am missing a lot of those activities. I’ve got a limited amount of time now to watch my kids grow up, and I want to make that a priority.”

For example, Smith said he wasn’t going to attend the Nov. 6 school board meeting “because I want to go see my son play basketball,” as Hudson’s basketball league started that night.

Smith said his new job will allow him to work from home and dictate the hours he is available. “It gives me the freedom and flexibility in terms of the hours of the day to be a better dad.”

Smith and his wife, Courtney, and their two sons will continue to live in this area.

Smith spent five years in the minor leagues for the now-Los Angeles Angels and Pittsburgh Pirates, from 2001 to 2005 as a right-handed pitcher, advancing as far as Double A Arkansas while with the Angels during the 2003 and 2004 seasons. He was an inaugural member of the independent Atlantic League’s Lancaster Barnstormers in 2005.

Before coming to Elizabethtown, Smith was an assistant coach at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and an educational technician in the special education department at Mount Ararat High School in Topsham, Maine.

He started as head baseball coach at Elizabethtown College in 2005. His teams won 254 games over 11 seasons, making him at the time the second all-time winningest coach in the history of the college’s baseball program.

His time at Middletown has been brief, but meaningful. He spoke of his positive working relationship with Suski, high school Principal Michael Carnes, and the school board.

“I got to meet a lot of new people and make a lot of new friends that I will cherish. I walk away with nothing but a positive feeling for my time in Middletown,” he said.

Smith said he never met or worked with one person in the Middletown district who did not have as their “No. 1 priority” the success of the students.

“Everybody I have met in Middletown Area School District has one thing in mind — the best interest of the kids in the district. That has really blown me away,” Smith said. “It’s really impressive to see how much people in this district care about their kids.”