By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Hudson – “My commute just got a whole lot better,” declared Jessica Winders, an athletic director who recently moved from Worcester to Boylston and changed jobs from Newbury College in Brookline to Hudson High School. She's looking forward to working with high school coaches after seven years at two colleges.
“College coaches are constantly leaving and going to the next best job,” she explained. “At the high school level, you'se certainly not just a coach; you have another job that allows you to coach. It's a passion and you really want to do it. That's a definite benefit for a high school athletic director to have coaches who are already working in the school system and know the students.”
Winders received a bachelor's degree in journalism and African-American studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she wrote for the Massachusetts Daily Collegian. She also played varsity field hockey for two years until a knee injury required reconstructive surgery. After rehabilitation, she played varsity basketball.
“Basketball was my true love,” she said. “But everyone told me that I was too short to play basketball in college, so that's why I went to field hockey.”
She was active in sports throughout her childhood and continued while attending Acton-Boxborough Regional High School (ABRHS). Her first job after college was at ABRHS as a long-term substitute teacher in the English department. She also coached field hockey, basketball and softball.
“I taught so that I's be able to coach,” she acknowledged. “I loved the coaching aspect and being in the high school atmosphere. It's such an influential age to mentor and be a role model. When I went back to get my master's, I knew that I wasn's going to be a teacher; I wanted to be a high school athletic director.”
Winders earned a master's degree in sports management at Springfield College, which is a satellite for the Eastern College Athletic Conference. She covered sports events for its website, ecac.com. To help pay for tuition, she became an assistant coach for women's basketball.
“When I graduated from Springfield College, I applied for hundreds of jobs, but the opportunities for high school athletic directors just weren's there,” she relayed.
From 2000 to 2006, she worked as assistant vice president of sports management at the Special Olympics Massachusetts in Danvers, before the state headquarters moved to Marlborough.
“I took the job as a stepping stone and then I ended up really liking it,” she said. “I enjoyed working with Special Olympics athletes. Another really great part for me was connecting with the volunteers. You can's do your job at Special Olympics without them.”
Winders served as assistant director of athletics for operations at Regis College in Weston from 2007 to 2010.
“It really prepared me to be an athletic director,” she noted. “I had so much responsibility as the assistant director in terms of budget management, supervising coaches, and overseeing game operation, facility maintenance and scheduling.”
She worked as athletic director at Newbury College in Brookline from 2010 through the end of last school year.
“It was my first athletic director job, so I was able to hire the coaches who I wanted and we all shared the same vision,” she said. “I loved being able to build my own program and put my stamp on it. I certainly hope to do that here in Hudson.”
Winders is pleased to finally direct athletics at a high school.
“It's about being part of the community, watching the students grow up and knowing their parents,” she said. “I's excited to be a part of the Hudson community.”