Helmuth named athletic director at Booker High School in Sarasota

Schools’ head boys’ basketball coach moved into the position immediately

Phil Helmuth. Contributed photo
Phil Helmuth. Contributed photo

Booker High School has announced that its new athletic director will be Phil Helmuth, the school’s head boys’ varsity basketball coach. The appointment is effective immediately, according to a Sarasota County School District news release.

Booker High School Principal Rachel Shelley said she believes Helmuth “has the experience and expertise necessary to turn the Booker High Athletic Program into a comprehensive and sustainable program that will help develop athlete-scholars aligned with the school’s mission of preparing students to be college- or career-ready,” the release continues.

“He is a visionary,” Shelley noted of Helmuth in the release. “He has a goal and a strategy to develop our overall department. He’s going to make our athletic program phenomenal.”

Helmuth’s strategy, he said in the release, is simple: “First, you build character in every athlete. Second, you make that person the best player and athlete they can be. When you reverse that order, it’s a shortcut to disaster.”

Booker launched its College and Career Readiness initiative last year “and will move this year to enhance [it] by offering classes in character education and practical skills to help students navigate their futures,” the release notes. In combination with The Booker Challenge character-building activities, the release continues, the College and Career Readiness program emphasizes making good decisions.

Helmuth noted in the release that he believes character development is the key to a person’s success, no matter what the endeavor. “You can’t separate actions on and off the field or court.”

One way “he helped establish a culture with his basketball team where character development is at the forefront was by requiring all of his players in the 2016 season to join the Men of Distinction group on campus, known also as the ‘MOD Squad,’” the release points out. “The club, headed by college and career advisers Lem Andrews and Ted Downing, has a focus on developing leaders who understand how to set goals, inspire others, work as a team, and manage priorities,” the release adds.

Helmuth also plans to help recruit coaches who have “vision, and that’s an intangible thing; you can tell when a coach has it, and when they don’t,” he explained in the release.