Tammy Talmage, center, with former OHHS coach and educator Sandy Osterman, left, and former OHHS Athletic Director Norm Niedermeier, at the Ottawa Hills Foundation's Hall of Fame in April 2013.
Tammy Talmage got her first taste of what it will be like to be the new athletic administrator at Ottawa Hills High School on May 1.
That was Talmage's first day on the job, working alongside outgoing athletic administrator Tim Erickson, who is scheduled to retire on July 31. Talmage, a 1982 Ottawa Hills graduate, has been the Green Bears' field hockey coach for the past 27 years but this is her first foray as a high school administrator.
"Tim is mentoring me and teaching me the ins and outs of the job," Talmage said. "The job is much harder than it appears and I'm learning a lot from him. He's a good teacher. A lot more goes on behind the scenes and he's been able to teach me that. He's willing to answer any questions I have."
Talmage, 53, left her full-time job at the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities - where she held several positions over the past 30 years - to take her new position at the high school. She was most recently a service and support coordinator with the Board.
Sports, however, have always been in her blood.
Talmage coached Maumee Valley's junior high track team for one season and she has coached field hockey, basketball, and softball at OHHS. She coached Ottawa Hills' junior high track team and coached the softball team for 11 years. Talmage also coached basketball and softball at Waite.
"I've always been interested in sports," she said. "From the time I worked at the Board, I still coached. I coached three sports and I was always around sports. I never lost my interest in wanting to be an athletic director, but my job at the Board took me in a different direction.
"I wanted to be an athletic director here, but I didn't think about it until Tim was ready to retire. I thought, this is my dream job and I should apply for it. You make the job your own."
Two reasons Erickson cited for wanting to retire were the occasional 75-hour work weeks and an opportunity to spend more time with his family. Talmage said Erickson has warned her about the amount of hours the job requires.
"There will be a lot of late nights," Talmage said. "If I'm going to be working, why not be around sports? I love being around the kids. The best part is when I'm walking down the hall and I pass some of the kids who are athletes. It's a different atmosphere. I liked my job (at the Board) and I loved the people. Here, I love the job. I love doing stuff when it comes to sports and the communication with all the coaches.
"Maybe in three years I'll say it wasn't what I thought it was, or I'll say it's the best job ever."
Ottawa Hills Schools Superintendent Dr. Kevin Miller said the pool of applicants for the athletic administrator position was solid and added that, "Tammy claimed it as her own."
"She has inside perspective of us as a school system and a community, and she has great insight into the athletic department," Miller said. "She's been a coach for many years and she was an athlete, and during her time as a coach she's been able to kind of see the workings of the athletic department and what it takes to run a successful program. That gave her a head start on the other candidates."
Talmage gave up her field hockey and softball coaching positions and has already been involved in hiring three new high school coaches.
"That's the only negative part of getting this job," she said, "having to give up field hockey and softball. I enjoyed it, but I feel now I can be that person who left coaching on my own terms and I can help mentor the younger coaches."
Miller said there were 98 applicants for the athletic administrator job, and the search committee interviewed 19 of them. He said Talmage stood out from the rest and added that his goal for her is to learn the job first and then implement her vision.
"One thing that spoke to me in her final interview was when she said she knows her job is knowing what it takes so that athletes can compete and coaches can coach," Miller said. "That, to me, showed me that she understood she was there to understand the needs of our coaches and our student-athletes. Her passion for our school system and wanting to do this job was unparalleled by any other candidate."
Ottawa Hills' three new varsity coaches are Jordan Kielty (volleyball), Stephanie Egan (cross country) and Sarah Farkas (field hockey). All three coaches were hired during Talmage's first two weeks on the job, "and I'm pretty proud of that," she said.
"I got interview committees for those sports," Talmage said. "I was off and running my first day, setting up interviews and doing the fun part of the job, telling (the coaches) they were hired. I also had to do the not-fun part of the job, telling people who interviewed for the job that they had not been selected."