There’s nothing like a different perspective to change a few things, and that’s exactly what Karen Hoyt experienced in her first year working with the Louisiana High School Athletic Association.
“(It’s been) educational,” said Hoyt, who is one of the LHSAA’s assistant executive directors. “Being that I’ve been a member of this association since 1991, until you’re actually in this role, you really have no idea what goes on behind the scenes.”
Hoyt, who was Albany’s girls basketball coach and also served as athletic director before becoming an assistant principal at Denham Springs Junior High, also served on the executive council for the Louisiana High School Coaches Association, All-Star game coordinator and All-Star game coach.
Based on the previous experiences, Hoyt thought she had a good grasp on the goings-on at the LHSAA – until she started working there.
“The responsibility that happens in this office, it’s quite overwhelming, to be honest with you,” Hoyt said. “If you could see my desk right now, you would flip out. I’ve got stuff everywhere because there’s so many things going on at all times. You have to be a multi-tasker to survive.”
Hoyt is in charge of volleyball, boys and girls basketball and softball. She added eligibility to her list of duties in January and recently tacked on the Hall of Fame while giving up spirit duties. She said it’s ‘all hands on deck’ when it comes to handling football and track.
For Hoyt, the more tasks, the better
“I’ve always kind of thrived on multitasking and take pride in being able to do multiple things at one time,” said Hoyt, who also coaches an AAU basketball team. “It’s just really good time management. You have to set priorities and set limits for each role that you play in life. I think we all wear multiple hats.
“I don’t sleep a lot. I’ve very active. I always have been.”
Hoyt said the biggest eye-opener working at the LHSAA was hearing from coaches who don’t know the organization’s rules, which she said comes primarily from them not educating themselves or because there’s been a high turnover rate in principals and coaches.
“As a coach and athletic director, I just took care of my stuff,” she said. “I don’t remember calling the association constantly and asking questions. I read the handbook. I knew the rules.”
In attempt to educate coaches, Hoyt said she’d like to implement a mandatory yearly meeting for the state's athletic directors, something she learned other states are doing after attending a convention in Chicago earlier this month.
“I think it’s very crucial that we add something like that here,” Hoyt said. “We do a new school orientation, and this year, we’re going to invite the new principals and new ADs to come to that as well because the information needs to get out there. If they’re required to actually come into the office and attend a training or a workshop to educate them, they don’t have a choice. They’ll be here.”
Hoyt said she’s also gotten a look at the bigger picture statewide when it comes to high school athletics, pointing to powerlifting, gymnastics, swimming and tennis -- sports that may be limited to some schools.
“There’s so much more to what’s going on across the state than what’s going on in your little world,” Hoyt said. “I think that’s the problem with our coaches and with our principals as well. They vote on things to be passed because it’s how it effects them, but they don’t see the big picture of how it effects the whole entire membership in the whole state.”
One of those issues member schools recently voted is that games against out-of-state teams will count in basketball, baseball and softball in determining power points. Games against out-of-state opponents have always counted in football, and Hoyt said the responsibility of reporting in other sports will fall on coaches, which she said means working on an honor system.
“You can verify it for football because they play 10 total games and it’s one game a week, but you know what basketball season for a B and C class school looks like, and softball and baseball, you know what that looks like,” she said.
One of Hoyt’s many projects is updating the LHSAA handbook, something she said is a multi-person job that is a work in progress. She’s getting help on that from her assistant, Lacy Macdiarmid and LHSAA assistant commissioner Adam MacDowell.
“You don’t realize how much change happens,” she said. “It’s a constant changing world with the rules.”
The LHSAA is currently working on setting up volleyball jamborees and tournaments and preparing to post a volleyball rules clinic online by July 23. A new school orientation will be held July 24, and Hoyt will attend an academic team meeting at end of the month to try and revise eligibility rules as far as academics with the Jumpstart program.
“Students are earning credits in non-traditional ways now, but we don’t have anything in our handbook that addresses that,” Hoyt said. “It’s just an ever-changing document to change with the progression of education or adding a new sport.”
Hoyt is also helping MacDowell and LHSAA administrative assistant Hope Walley steer the recently formed LHSAA Student-Athletic Advisory Committee, of which Holden athlete Emma Hutchinson is a member.
“I think to allow the students to have a voice is great, and hopefully it’s a voice that will be heard across the state by our principals, because this is an organization for them (students),” Hoyt said.
The group’s first meeting last month touched on several topics, including the public-private split and social media. Hoyt also said the group wanted to know what it could do to show appreciation for officials.
“They feel like officials really get a bad rap, and I thought that was very insightful on their part. They also wanted to know what they could do about sportsmanship because some of their coaches have horrible sportsmanship,” she said while laughing. “Obviously they’ve seen their coaches scream and holler at officials. I think those two go hand-in-hand.”
Hoyt said all of her previous roles helped her transition into her position with the LHSAA.
“I think it was vital just to have the experience in administration,” she said. “I think that’s key to be able to deal with people. I feel like God prepared me for this job with my other jobs. He was preparing me, giving me the experience that I needed to be able to come in and hopefully do a good job here at this level.”
She said she’s been helped along by working for a solid staff, headed by LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine.
“The good outweighs the bad, definitely,” she said. “The people I work with are unbelievable. I can’t say enough good things about Mr. Bonine. You know I’ve been in this state for a long time, and I’ve seen what this association was and where it had gotten, and I see where he’s brought it back to. I’m very proud of being part of the organization with what he’s done and the level of professionalism that he has. I feel very blessed to be here working with these people – my colleagues.
“It’s a great team we have here.”