Ridgeway looks to help Greyhounds succeed

Published on: 8/13/2013

The off-hand introduction for new Shorewood Athletic Director LeVar Ridgeway at his first Woodland Conference meeting this summer was predictable and not unexpected for the 1995 Brown Deer graduate.

After all, it made him feel like he was right back at high school basketball practice at Brown Deer under the studious gaze of his then-coach and still current Falcons Athletic Director Mike Novak.

'Mike (Novak) just looked at me, laughed and said 'Oh my, I know this kid!,' ' chuckled Ridgeway, who has been on duty for the Greyhounds since July 1, taking over for the recently retired Bill Haury.

Ridgeway, who is working on his masters' of sports leadership degree at Marquette, still lives in the Brown Deer area with his wife, Adrienne, and their daughter, Brooke.

And though he may be new to the world of Shorewood and the Woodland Conference, Ridgeway is prepared for the modern world of athletic director. He served in various capacities in the UW-Milwaukee athletic department for more than 11 years after earning a bachelor's degree in Public Policy Administration at UW-Whitewater.

He handled marketing for a number of the UWM athletic teams, designed marketing and public relations campaigns, was involved in ticket sales, student involvement and community bonds and helped the men's basketball team set new revenue records.

'I started about a year after I graduated,' he said. 'I picked up a lot of experience handling a lot of difficult areas.'

So why Shorewood?

'I saw this as a great opportunity,' he said. 'I've seen the recent success and the growth of the athletic program and I thought it would be a good fit.'

The Greyhounds won state titles this past school year in boys cross country, girls swimming and diving and boys track and field.

He's looking to keep these programs on track.

'There are many different aspects of the athletic program that I have to get used to,' he said. 'Registration, physicals and above all the safety of the kids. I was even in on the hiring of a couple of new coaches (fall season hires for boys volleyball and girls tennis).'

What he has been most encouraged by so far is the energy of this tight-knit North Shore enclave.

'One of the great things I'm discovering is what a great sense of community there is out here,' he said, 'and how much enthusiasm they have for their athletic teams and how much they care.

'The high school is definitely the hub of the community out here. You look at the facilities, the pool, the (football/soccer) field, the gym. I've met everyone from toddlers to 90-year-olds using them.'

And as indicated, he is enthusiastic about the opportunity here.

'I think my experience in intercollegiate sports will help, especially my marketing background,' he said. 'I want to tell the story of Shorewood. Get the word out about our successes.'

He also knows that budgets are tight and making the community aware of what a valuable service interscholastic sports provides can only help in that regard.

Right now, he's still easing into things with a quiet and still largely empty school, but Ridgeway can't wait for that first bell to ring on the first day of classes.

'I can't wait to interact with the students,' he said. 'I want to help them get more involved with their school, create more school spirit. I'd like to work on creating a student/athlete advisory committee. I want all school groups more involved.'

The first home football game is Aug. 23 against South Milwaukee. It'll be his first major event.

'I managed events at UWM and I'm looking forward to seeing the crowd, doing all the things you need to do when you're in charge of a situation like that,' he said. 'I'll take everything in and try to cycle through everything I need to know.

'Then when it's done, I'll come home, sit down, take a deep breath and say 'What just happened?' And then I'll try to do it better the next time.'