Athletic directors are much more comfortable away from the limelight, roaming the sidelines or grandstands from behind the scenes.
The best are visible at almost every sporting event – from football, to basketball, to tennis and golf.
And Lakes High School athletic director Scott Nordi is among the best of the best in the state of Washington.
He was selected earlier this week as the Washington Association of School Administrators’ co-athletic director of the year after first being honored as the 3A Pierce County League and West Central District’s top AD. He was one of nine finalists representing the state’s nine districts — and there are almost 800 member schools in the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.
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"I’m just doing my job, doing what I was hired to do," Nordi said. "I enjoy doing my job. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a lot of great coaches and great people and great support from building administration and I’ve had a lot of mentors and people around me.
"It’s an honor bestowed on an individual, but for me it’s more of a collective thing."
Nordi is the 3A PCL president and a co-commissioner alongside Tumwater’s Tim Graham of the state football championships.
Nordi used to coach kids. Now he coaches coaches.
It’s his fifth year as the AD at Lakes, but before that he held the same position at Clover Park and was a football coach at Foss from 1993-2004, becoming the head coach in 2000.
He’s also entering his second year as the member of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association board of directors – the only member from Washington.
“I sure wasn’t surprise,” Lakes principal Karen Mauer-Smith said. “But I was very excited for him. Scott doesn’t do anything for recognition ever. He does things because he’s driven to help others. But you don’t ‘have to look far to see that he does it so well.
“He matters a lot to the kids and staff here. He really knows what he’s talking about. We couldn’t be more blessed to have him.”
When he accepted the award alongside Shoreline School District athletic director Don Dalziel at the WASA conference on Tuesday and couldn’t help but think of the man who most inspired him to become an athletic director.
Nordi’s father, George Nordi, was Mount Tahoma’s athletic director for 14 years and died in March of 2016. George Nordi was the coach of back-to-back state championship football teams at Mount Tahoma – with Scott on the team.
After Scott Nordi graduated from Mount Tahoma he went on to the University of Washington before his father persuaded him to get his teaching certificate from Pacific Lutheran.
"I wanted absolutely nothing to do with education," Scott Nordi said. "But with my dad, it was always, ‘You’re going to regret this. You need to do it.’ So then I went back to get my degree and it was always, ‘I told you so.’"
So at the award banquet Scott Nordi began to talk about all his mentors.
He got to his father.
"I mentioned my dad and got myself off that stage because I was an emotional wreck," Scott Nordi said.
"Watching him and how he worked with his coaches, I had been around it all my life. I try to pattern a lot of what I do after the way he did it."
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677