By JOSH SIGLER
---- — DENVER — The start to the 2011 academic calendar was ushered in about as loud as it could’ve been for North Miami athletic director Steve Linn.
With very little warning, the press box atop the bleachers at the school’s football field was found to be structurally unsound. Any media or game personnel had to sign a waiver to take in a game from the box, a maximum of four people were allowed in it at the same time, and a fence was put in place between the top of the bleachers and box’s entrance to keep people out. Those who were brave enough to take in a game from the box had to climb a ladder behind the bleachers to reach the entrance.Those times were hard on the nerves of Linn and his staff, but since then the North Miami booster club, behind the leadership of president Don Beech and secretary/treasurer Donna Stiver, has worked with the school to raise enough funds to replace the press box and bleachers. The track surface has gotten an overhaul as well, and will be ready to go come track and field season in the spring. It was one of the major hurdles cleared by Linn, who is entering his 11th season at NM’s athletic director. “During my tenure I think the facilities have improved,” Linn said. “There’s some maintenance that needs to happen, but that stuff happens all the time. You have to do things that are preventative to make sure they never get too bad. All of that got done this summer. So, our facilities aren’t too bad. It’s just so much better when things are up to date.”The revamped football stadium comes on the eve of new football coach Mark Lefebvre’s first season leading the Warriors. Lefebvre won a state title at his previous school, Southern Wells. He replaces Greg Miller, who left for Manchester High School. Miller led the Warriors to a 9-4 record and a sectional title last season.Linn has taught at North Miami since his first year out of college in 1976. Lefebrve was one Linn’s students that year in seventh-grade math. “It’s neat to see Mark come full circle,” Linn said. “Greg Miller did a great job with our football program and had some really nice teams. He had a tough choice leaving North Miami and going back home [to Manchester]. Mark Lefebvre in return gets a chance to move back home. It’s nice to see him back. He has some new ideas and different ways of doing things than Greg did. It’s going to be neat to see how that blends together.”Linn has seen a major influx of summer traffic through his weight room in recent years, something he attributes to basketball coach Clay Bolser working with the football coaching staff to share athletes, something vital for the athletic success of a school North Miami’s size. “When the coaches get along and the athletes see that they get along, those two things can only be positive,” Linn said. “When the coaches are working together, the athletes see the engagement between them and it makes everything so much nicer because the players can’t play the coaches in the middle that way. It’s nice to see the coaches not competing for kids and understanding the importance of athletes playing multiple sports.“Our numbers are up in most of the sports,” Linn continued. “We have more cross country runners out. We have more football players out. Boys soccer has more participants than they thought they would. And volleyball has more numbers than they were expecting. So, when you start going across the board — both boys and girls — and see that the numbers are up, you get excited for not only the present, but the future, too.”Linn has a heavy workload in his position. On top of being the school’s athletic director, he’s also the statistician for the Three Rivers Conference. A math teacher by trade, he also teaches physical education classes. It all “makes for a lot of long days,” Linn said, but added he wouldn’t change it and is proud to be in the position he is. “There have been a lot of accomplishments,” he said. “Each year you become proud of something different. We’ve put a projector in our gym, which is an accomplishment of our booster club. We’ve upgraded our baseball field with the help of the booster club. We’ve redone our softball field with the help of a couple softball parents. Some of those things you can’t rank. Is there any one thing? I don’t think so. But, it’s a combination of everything.”