New athletic director carries on family’s sports-education legacy
Brent Bechard strives to showcase the school’s diverse athletic program
Mill Valley News: Describe something on your desk or in your office that has special meaning to you.
Brent Bechard: The pictures of my wife and my son Bruin [mean a lot to me] for obvious reasons. Bruin just turned one, [he’s] our first kid, and, not that kids aren’t special to everybody but he’s kind of special to us because we had to go through some IVF to be able to have a kid. That makes Bruin a little more special to us and we feel very fortunate that we are able to have Bruin. Science is an amazing thing so it makes it just a little bit more special to us to have Bruin with us.
MVN: What is your background?
BB: I started my career in education, in the Olathe school district. I was an elementary PE teacher at Rolling Ridge Elementary and coached basketball at Olathe East High School; I did that for six years. And then I actually went to Holton Kansas where I grew up and started my first administration job. I was the assistant principal and athletic director there for four years. I knew I wanted to get back in this area. My parents and my wife’s parents live right here in the area and I’ve always heard great things about Mill Valley so when the job became open I knew I had to take a shot at it and luckily I’m sitting right here now. This is my 11th year in education, I was a P.E. teacher for six years and this will be my fifth year in administration.
MVN: Where did you attend college?
BB: I went to Baker University for my undergrad, I was part of the men’s golf team there for four years. Then I got my graduate degree from Emporia State University; [Emporia’s] a good school for education and one of the top-notch in the state for sure.
MVN: How would you describe yourself?
BB: I’m a pretty laid-back guy. I try not to let things bother me too much. I’m pretty flexible, willing to work with all kinds of different people, all different kinds of personalities and it takes quite a bit to get under my skin. I just enjoy being around the youth and being a role model and helping kids get to where they want to be.
MVN: What are some of your goals for the school this year?
BB: One of my goals is that I want everyone to feel valued and that goes for all students, student-athletes, no matter what you’re involved with. I want every program and every activity to feel valued, it shouldn’t matter if you’re the starting quarterback on the football field or the last person sitting on the bench for the tennis team, those two people have the same value and they’re just as important to those teams and to our school as anybody else is. The same goes for all of our activities and our clubs, it shouldn’t matter what you’re involved in, everybody should have the same work, and be valued the same way.
MVN: What were your first impressions of the school?
BB: Obviously the first thing that I see when I walk in is just the facilities, it’s an amazing school from the classrooms to the hallway to the gym. Everything outside with the turf football and soccer fields and the locker rooms, it’s a big upgrade from where I was [before]. That’s the first thing that comes to my mind and my eyes when I walk through the school. The second thing is just how welcoming everybody’s been. The staff and the students, I have different students coming up to me every day saying hi and introducing who they are and that [along with] the great facilities and a great school, and the great people that work and attend the school, it’s just kind of the perfect storm.
MVN: Why did you want to get into education?
BB: I was born into [education] I guess you could say. When I was going through Holton, my dad was the assistant principal and athletic director, both of my grandparents, my grandmas, they were teachers, growing up, and even my great-grandma, clear back into the one-room schoolhouse, she was a teacher. So, you know, and I’ve got my uncle Don when he was still alive, he was a coach at Gardener[-Edgerton], my other uncle’s the volleyball coach at KU and his son is on the staff for the men’s basketball team. So, you know, just athletics and education, in general, has always been in the Bechard blood, and I just always wanted to kind of follow in the footsteps of my dad because he’s been a very successful athletic director and assistant principal in the state of Kansas, and now in Missouri.
MVN: Is there anything else that you’d like us to know about you?
BB: I’m a big KU guy. I’m sure you’ll see that I support that on the regular and I like to give those K-State and Missouri fans a hard time, but it’s all in the fun of the rivalry. I want them to support their teams as well, just like I support mine. I’m a big outdoors guy. I’m an archery hunter, a big bow hunter. So during the fall, that’s something that I like to do in my spare time: go deer hunting, and I got a couple of hunting dogs as well, and I go turkey hunting in the spring, so anything outdoors I really enjoy, and I hope to pass that on to Bruin someday. Hopefully, he’ll become a hunter and fisherman as well. Bowhunting is just a time for me to just find a quiet place and sit and reflect on things and get a little bit of alone time and get away from the noise of the city or the noise of a job, wherever it is. Even when I was in Holton, it was nice to get out and be in nature and have a little time to just self-reflect and decompress.