Bailey taking over as MPA interim AD
Zach Bailey knows he has big shoes to fill. Keenan Reader is confident that will be no problem.
Bailey was named interim athletic director at Maui Preparatory Academy this week, taking over for the 2021-22 school year for Reader, who has held the position for the last eight years. The move will take effect Aug. 1.
Head of school Dr. Miguel Solis told The Maui News of the change via text on Sunday.
“I’m very excited, I’m very excited for the opportunity, I’m very grateful to Dr. Solis and the administration here and Mr. Reader, who has been a fantastic athletic director,” Bailey said Tuesday. “I’m very humbled by the support that I have received from the community and the people at Maui Prep. It truly is amazing and I’m looking forward to the challenge.
“I know it’s a lot of work, but I’m willing to put in the effort and try to be the best that I can be and do the best job possible.”
The move became necessary when Reader’s dual duties of college counselor started demanding more of his time — the MPA student body has increased to more than 90 in the high school ranks for the fall.
“Basically being a small private school, I’ve worn many different hats and roles here, all at one time,” Reader said Wednesday. “With growing enrollment, it’s frankly become too much from the college counseling side. We have a big influx in our high school and with the opening of the Bozich Center (gymnasium) and expanding of our athletic program up at the high school level, middle school level, lower school level, it just necessitated splitting the positions.
“Being a college prep school, the college counseling piece is a huge component. I said, ‘I’m open to serving this community in either fashion’ and they asked me to remain on for next year in the role of college counselor. That includes teaching some classes, but they felt they needed me there the most.”
The tiny college prep private school in Napili is adding cheerleading and girls basketball for the 2021-22 school year, bringing the total number of sports offered at MPA to 18.
When Reader started as AD, there were 10 teams.
“I know it will be challenging at first, but he’s been very instrumental and very just kind in helping me,” Bailey said of his relationship with Reader. “He’s given me tips already, you know, things I need to take care of right away and I will definitely go to him and just ask him if he has a suggestion here or ‘what do I do here?’ I know that I can go to him.”
Reader admitted he will miss the athletic director duties “tremendously. We’ve seen amazing growth in our athletic program under my tenure and frankly was not fully done. There’s more work that I wanted to see through and I will look forward to doing it by supporting Coach Bailey in that role. I will be going back in to doing a little bit of coaching as well. That’s always been a passion of mine, so I will still be around.”
Reader said he may return to athletic director after one year of this arrangement.
“I couldn’t be more excited, if there is somebody to pass it on to I’m ecstatic that it’s Coach Bailey,” Reader said. “He does come into our community with a great energy. We share a vision for Maui Prep athletics, so I know he’s going to be able to pick up right where I left off and continue to grow our programs to a competitive level while we keep academics and our college prep mission at the forefront.
“He demands only greatness and for that I’m happy to pass it on because I know he’s going to share my vision of taking it to the next level and continuing our growth in the (Maui Interscholastic League).”
Reader looks forward to coaching his daughter Kaia, a rising seventh grader, in volleyball in the fall.
“My passion is working with kids and however I can most do that to influence their future in a positive way is pretty OK, pretty cool to me,” Reader said. “I was the school’s first volleyball coach, along with Ryan Kirkham, and I’m looking forward to going back to my roots, back to when we started. Eventually, one of my other goals, more the longterm, is I was the founding cross country coach. I was able to win a state runner-up trophy, but I’m still searching for a county championship. So, that’s a few years down the road.”
Bailey was named the school’s head boys basketball coach in April 2020 — a position he now shares with Cheyne De La Garza — and has been a member of the school staff since June 2019.
Now, his duties have changed from physical education teacher to full-time AD. He brings a resume to the job that includes a standout basketball career at Tennessee Tech University.
“I need to learn the MIL rule book,” Bailey said. “I asked (Reader) for the binder and he gave me the binder — that’s the first thing I’m looking at — and the scheduling, but more importantly I want to just build relationships with all the coaches that we have here.
“And, you know, just build on the relationships with the student-athletes as well, and just let them know that I’m here for them and that I’m here to support them, to make their experience in both sports and academics at Maui Prep the best possible.”
Reader is ready to come back to the AD role, if needed.
“No doors are closed,” he said. “Everything is on great terms and I can see myself back in that role in another year potentially or Zach continuing, one way or the other.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org.