Jun. 11—GOSHEN — As one Mark exits Fairfield, another Mark enters.
Mark Engle was approved by the Fairfield Community School Board as the new athletic director for Fairfield Jr.-Sr. High School Thursday. Engle replaces Mark Hofer, who announced his retirement in early March after spending 24 years in the role at Fairfield.
"I've always wanted to be an athletic director ... I love Fairfield," Engle said. "Everything about the community; it was home to me from my education background. And then when I saw Hofer retire, I was intrigued."
Engle, 45, has extensive experience in teaching, coaching and administrative work. A 1994 Westview graduate, Engle became the Warriors' head baseball coach at just age 24 in 2000. That same year, he began a 15-year teaching career in the Fairfield school district, primarily as a middle school teacher.
After his coaching time at Westview ended in 2005, Engle shifted toward coaching travel and club sport teams. Along with the club baseball and basketball circuit, Engle helped the Westview boys soccer team as an assistant coach from 1998-2008. He would remain a teacher until 2015 when an opportunity to become the general manager at the Farmstead Inn was made available to him. Engle accepted, and he's been in that role even since.
"Once I stepped away from the classroom, I wasn't necessarily looking to get out of education — this job kind of found me a little bit," said Engle, referencing his job at Farmstead. "So, I wasn't necessarily looking to jump out of (education) in 2015, and I wouldn't say I was necessarily looking to jump back into it. Yet, the timing of (Hofer's) retirement just made it feel like now was the time to jump onto it."
Although he has no direct experience in working in an athletic department, Engle feels like his cumulative experiences in both teaching and coaching has prepared him for this opportunity.
"I think my knowledge of kids and just being part of a school background is really going to help," Engle said. "I think once you're a teacher, you're always a teacher, so I have that background to lead that department, whether its just communication skills, being organized; those types of things.
"The coaching side of things: I've coached everything from six years old to 18 years old. So, I feel like I've got full development of kids. ... I feel like I've got a pretty good knowledge base on what it looks like for athletes as they grow up in the youth leagues and then once they start the high school process."
Engle also believes his private sector life helped him land this new gig.
"I've been out of education for six years," Engle said. "I wasn't really sure what the (interview) committee was looking for, but I also feel like my private sector life also helped me get the job. I've got the education, I've got the sports, and I also have a little bit of the business mind of the last six years that can help run the department."
Helping Engle at Fairfield, among others, will be longtime employee Tim Fritz, who's been the assistant AD for the past few years. Fritz also served as interim AD for the end of the 2020 calendar year when Hofer was hospitalized with COVID.
While Engle anticipates a learning curve will happen, he's excited to take that challenge head-on.
"It's definitely a learning process," Engle said. "I'm looking forward to meet area athletic directors and working with them, but what I'm most interested in is working with our coaches and building up our programs. I want them to continue their drive toward excellence and just push Fairfield to produce the best athletes and kids that we possibly can.
"It all starts with the culture, so I'm very interested in working with the culture to build that up. All sports can work together that can really produce something the community's proud of."
Engle is married to his wife, Heather, and has three children: twin boys, Jaxon and Max, 14, and a daughter, Kate, 6.
Austin Hough can be reached at email@example.com or at 574-538-2360. Follow him on Twitter at @AustinHoughTGN.