Rye A.D. Rod Mergardt Bids Farewell

Rod Merghardt-IMG 2472For a retired guy, Rod Mergardt had one busy year.


By Mitch Silver


Rod Merghardt-IMG 2472For a retired guy, Rod Mergardt had one busy year.


Serving as Rye’s acting Athletic Director while the powers-that-be searched for Rob Castagna’s permanent replacement — Castagna took the open A.D. job at Byram Hills last summer — Mergardt jumped into the job with both feet.


“It’s the only way I know how to do it,” he said.


He certainly knows how to do it. Following his retirement from a 31-year career as coach and A.D. at Fox Lane High School, Mergardt has repeatedly unretired to handle interim chores for Mamaroneck, Byram Hills, Sleepy Hollow, Ridgefield, Tuckahoe, and the Garnets.


“It’s crazy. I haven’t applied for a job in 50 years.”


His Rolodex must be stuffed to the gills. When asked if he knew the winner of Rye’s search, incoming Athletic Director Michael Arias (currently head of Keio’s athletics), Mergardt said, “Sure. He was a heck of a baseball player while I was in charge at Mamaroneck High.”


So, what will he miss most about Rye? “First and foremost, you meet great kids in the building every day. And the parents — they have high expectations for their children here, no question. But they’re also very supportive of what we’re trying to do. It’s not like that everywhere.”


And what is Rye trying to do?


“We want every child, girls as much as boys, to be physically fit. We want every kid, not just our varsity athletes, to have caring and supportive teachers and coaches.” He smiled. “And we want to win. Especially when Harrison is the team on the other side.”


Finally, how can an Athletic Director make a real contribution?

“I think I have two strengths. One, I’m a talent spotter. I put talented people in a position to succeed. And two, I know how to put a team together. On the field, and here in the building.”


He added, “One more thing: an athletic director needs to reach out, ask questions, offer help. If you think you should be having a conversation, well…you should.”


Mergardt has a standing offer from a Montana fishing buddy to spend some time out West. But first, he’ll be spending time with his daughter, who lives in Maine, and the rest of his family.


It’s his Rye family that will be missing him.