Kathy Ehrhardt is retiring from her position as athletic director for the Boys and Girls Club.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
After 10 soccer seasons in 9 1/2 years, the athletic director for the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula is stepping down.
“I feel like I need something different,” said Kathy Ehrhardt, who initially plans on taking a sabbatical for a few months.
Having graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in forestry, Ehrhardt was not particularly driven to a job in sports, but when the Boys and Girls Club in Kenai had someone leave suddenly 10 years ago, Ehrhardt stepped up to fill the need.
“I had been involved (in Boys and Girls Club sports) as a parent and coach, and I had once worked as an assistant athletic director in Bethel, but I was a stay-at-home mom,” she said.
Ehrhardt’s three children now grown all played soccer with Boys and Girls Clubs and all played basketball, though none stayed with the sports.
Her oldest daughter, Britt, 24, now lives in California; Kirsten, 22, is a student at the University of Colorado in Boulder and is working on the North Slope for the summer; and her son, Reed, 17, is a junior at Kenai Central High School.
“My kids were not stellar athletes. They did not go on in sports. They just enjoyed playing,” she said.
The 21-year Kenai resident credits sports, such as the programs offered by Boys and Girls Clubs, with providing many character-building lessons for youth.
“They’re part of a team; they learn to be team players. The learn responsibility; they have to make practice. They learn discipline and respect, though the emphasis is on participation and having fun,” she said.
“And these days, kids have to learn how to be gracious winners,” Ehrhardt said.
During her career at the Kenai club, the soccer program there “has grown astronomically,” according to Ehrhardt.
She does not believe the growth is a direct result of her influence.
“I think it would have (grown) anyway,” she said.
One program that can be traced to her is the preschool with parents sports activities.
Preschoolers come to the club with their parents for soccer and basketball, and the parents are required to participate along with their children.
Ehrhardt said her job was mostly administrative, though she did work a lot with coaches and enjoyed watching the games.
When asked what she would miss the most after leaving, she said, “I had the opportunity to work with some wonderful people here and in the community.
“The coach list had some of the best people in the community. They are devoted and give to the kids,” Ehrhardt said.
Her oldest daughter said she was proud of the decision Ehrhardt made, adding it is a brave thing to do.
“It was not an easy decision,” Ehrhardt said.
“But change is good. I need to keep challenging myself,” she said.
The Boys and Girls Clubs is planning an open house for Ehrhardt from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, inviting all who have worked with her or “witnessed Kathy’s ability to organize chaos off and on the fields, gyms and clinics,” said Brenda Pilgrim Ahlberg, executive director.
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