The smoothest transitions tend to be ones that happen so gradually, you hardly even notice anything has changed.
That's the goal in Streator High School's athletics department as Rory Bedeker takes over the position of athletics director from Kevin Wargo.
Wargo — a 1978 Streator High graduate who has served as his alma mater's AD for the past eight-and-a-half years after stints as the athletics director at Putnam County, Dwight and Plainfield South — retired at the end of this school year's first semester, turning over the reins of Bulldogs sports to 2003 SHS graduate Bedeker.
"I was lucky enough to be able to be with Kevin through all three of the high school sports seasons," said Bedeker, who was hired back in February to shadow Wargo and learn the ropes before his predecessor's departure. "We didn't have quite the weather we've been having now before Christmas when he was still here, but all the ADs in the (Interstate Eight) Conference have been huge helps, and Kevin checks in and sees if there's any help or advice he can give me, so it hasn't been that bad.
"(The process of training since last February) was very beneficial for me. I started doing stuff with Kevin on my prep periods during the spring season, getting a feel for everything, then over the summer and into the first semester this year I took more responsibilities, but with him right there to answer any questions."
For his part, Wargo agrees things have gone exceedingly well.
"I think the administration did a fantastic job hiring him back in February, giving us almost nine months to go over stuff and make for a smooth transition," Wargo said. "He's going to do a great job, and I commend him for wanting to do this job. Sometimes it's not the most rewarding of jobs, though sometimes it can be really rewarding. ...
"Rory is very organized ... and you've got to be passionate about athletics. I think he has that quality also."
Bedeker served as the sophomore boys basketball coach for three years at SHS before taking over the girls basketball program as head coach. It was a post he held for six seasons before resigning as a coach to accept the AD position.
"When it comes to Streator athletics, I remember going to games when I was very little, 100s of games there, all different sports," Bedeker said. "Then being able to play there, and now having the opportunity to not just coach, but be involved in all sports at Streator.
"I'm very grateful for the opportunity to be put in this position."
Wargo, while retired, won't become a stranger around Pops Dale Gymnasium or the SHS Athletic Fields.
In addition to spending time with his grandchildren, his children and his wife, Linda — a teacher who is just a few months from retirement herself — including chasing their goal of taking in a baseball game in every major league ballpark, Wargo plans to continue to be around high school sports. That includes enjoying his son, Tyler, coaching at Ottawa High School and, when they're not playing Tyler's teams, watching and rooting for the Streator Bulldogs.
"I haven't really had a chance to think about what I'll do much beyond that," Kevin Wargo said. "To be honest with you, it feels really strange after 33 years of going to work at 7 in the morning and sometimes getting home at 9 at night. It's definitely strange, but I'm starting to adjust to it, I guess.
"(Being the athletics director at Streator) was exactly what I always wanted. I actually never wanted to leave Streator, but there weren't many teaching positions when I graduated ... and I thank (former SHS superintendent Kevin) Myers and (current principal) Amy Jo Mascal for giving me that opportunity to come back to Streator and finish my career."