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Newark tabs Chase, Cooper as next athletic directors

Pair will share reigns of Norsemen high school sports

Newark High School has announced the hiring of co-athletic directors, as Josh Cooper (left) and Mindi Chase (right) will share AD duties for the Norsemen.
Newark High School has announced the hiring of co-athletic directors, as Josh Cooper (left) and Mindi Chase (right) will share AD duties for the Norsemen.

Two heads, they say, are better than one.

Newark High School is taking that axiom to heart, as the school has announced a pair of current teachers/extracurricular activity leaders will team up to take on the role of dual high school athletic directors.

Longtime band director Mindi Chase and second-year teacher/coach Josh Cooper will take the reigns of the small school's highly successful sports programs, replacing Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Robin Renner, who served one school year in the role after replacing former Newark AD Carol Navarro a year ago.

The school announced the hiring earlier this week in an email from principal Jim Still.

"We were blessed to haveáseveral applicants for the job," Still wrote, "and after several days of interviews, we felt that our best fit was to hire two of our very own candidates from Newark High School."

Newark boasts the two-time defending Class 1A state volleyball champions and has a long tradition of dominance in both boys and girls basketball, among other successes.

Chase has been a band director in the Newark school district for nearly two decades and an avid supporter of Norsemen — and University of Illinois — athletics.

"I've been at Newark for 18 years, and I am absolutely so proud to be a Norseman," she said. "I hope to be a lifelong Norseman, and I applied to be athletic director to not just work with the band, but work with the athletes as well. I love sports. ...

"I think it's a great fit for me, and I hope I can help bring our athletic programs some continuity and support the coaches in whatever way I can so they can be successful."

Cooper is finishing his second year at Newark and what would have been his first season as varsity head baseball coach, if not for the coronavirus pandemic. He's also coached boys basketball and boys soccer at Newark.

"Athletics have always been something that's been very important to me," Cooper said. "The reason I became who I am is sports ... because when you're in school, you have certain things that motivate you to do well. For me, it was always sports.

"I pictured (being an athletic director) down the road. I didn't figured I'd be offered the chance this early in my career, and I'm super excited about the opportunity and working with Mindi."

Cooper said while he expects he will work more with the school's boys programs and Chase more with the girls programs, their other duties will also see Cooper "on duty" more in the fall and Chase moreso in the spring, with the two splitting time in the winter and helping each other as needed.

"For the last two years, not just Mindi but all the teachers and staff at Newark have been really good to me and helped me," Cooper said. "With her having been here longer and knowing the community so well working with students all the way down to the (grade school) level, she knows them before they're even in high school.

"I think this will be something that's great for our school, and something that is going to work out great for us. ... We'll lean on each other for any help we might need, and I think it's something we're going to knock out of the park."

"I'm really excited to work with Josh," said Chase. "I think (the two-AD setup) will fit our needs really well, and I think it will work really well to have us working and managing things together."

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