SPONSORED BY: SportsGrub
By BOB YORK
Talk about closing out the decade with a bang, Ryan Frost did it with a boom.
In January the Cardigan Mountain School athletic director became the first New England Prep School Athletic Council middle school (grades 6-9) representative to ever be nominated to its Executive Board. He shattered that 78-year-old barrier when his peers voted him as secretary during their Annual Meeting.
Then, for an encore, Frost proved he is as much at home on the national stage as he is sure to be at the NEPSAC roundtable when he served as the Council’s lone presenter at the annual National Athletic Directors Conference in Washington, D.C., in December. Frost’s presentation was titled “Creating and Sustaining a Captains’ Leadership Council.”
The report marked the third time Frost has been a presenter at the AD’s national convention. Last year, he focused on leadership as well, with a presentation titled “Coaches Understanding Their Roles as Leaders.” His initial presentation, which came five years ago, dealt with “Establishing a Captains Leadership Council.”
Other familiar NEPSAC faces at the national conference belonged to Matt Lawlor, the athletic director at Brewster Academy, and Rick Eccleston, who is currently on sabbatical from Holderness School.
“I’m excited … I’m proud … I’m honored to have been elected to the Executive Board by my peers,” said Frost, who spent the majority of the past decade – eight years – as NEPSAC’s District II secretary and Middle School Representative. “I’m really looking forward to working closely with my fellow board members. NEPSAC has enjoyed outstanding leadership throughout the years and I’m anxious to help play a part in successfully responding to whatever challenges we may face in the future.”
“I’m thrilled to see Ryan move into the next and highest level of leadership in NEPSAC,” said George Tahan, the Council president. “He’s the first middle/junior school AD in NEPSAC to do so and I can think of no one more deserving than Ryan to make such a step.
“Ryan has been a fixture at Cardigan Mountain and in NEPSAC leadership,” added Tahan. “He had the tough task of following the legendary Jim Marrion at Cardigan and has done so capably, thoughtfully and in a manner I know would make Jim proud. I know if Jim were still around, he would be the first to give Ryan a big pat on the back.”
Frost’s quest to find student/athletes and help nurture them to become team leaders is something near and dear to his heart. For this former captain of his Franklin & Marshall College lacrosse team and recipient of its Character and Leadership Award his senior year, the belief in having the ability to lead is a key component of being successful in the athletic arena.
All projects such as Frost’s presentation on leadership councils come with a co-presenter and in Frost’s case, that partner was Anne Campbell, the Grand Rapids (Minn.) High School athletic director. The two worked together during the fall to organize and prepare the presentation.
“One of the nice things about it was the fact that Anne does something very similar with her captains, even at a large school of over 1,100 students,” said Frost, “and thus we were able to talk shop and learn from each other while working on our presentation.
“The best part,” added Frost, “was the connection and friendship we have made that now allows us to continue to connect and bounce ideas off each other even after we presented.”
“Having the opportunity to work with Ryan turned out to be a tremendous opportunity for me,” said Campbell. “He’s very passionate about his captains councils, as am I, and therefor I feel as though we were able to help each other along the way. During the fall, we’d keep in touch by either phone or email and we even Googled parts of the project back-and-forth to each other whenever necessary.
“In the end, we both want what’s best for the kids,” added Campbell. “We want to allow them to have the positive experiences that will not only help them be successful in athletics but more importantly, be successful in life.”
Perhaps a quote used as a preface on his Leadership Council website sheds some insight on how important Frost views team leadership. It’s a quote from Warren Bennis, who is widely regarded as a pioneer in the studies of leadership and it reads: “The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born – that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.”
With that philosophy in mind, Frost, who is in his 13th year as Cardigan Mountain’s athletic director and approaching his fourth season as the Cougars head lacrosse coach – whose team chalked up a 17-0 record last spring – is now in his 11th year conducting Captains’ Councils at Cardigan.
“We hold these sessions throughout the fall, winter and spring,” explained Frost. “Everyone who is voted a team captain is required to attend these meetings. We conduct between five and six meetings throughout each season, at which time the captains meet with their coaches.
“During these meetings,” added Frost, “the captains and coaches discuss the successes and problems their teams are having and use each other as a sounding board on finding ways to further improve on their successes as well as ways to eliminate or reduce the problems they may have run into.
“Overall, I feel as though these councils have served a real purpose … to help create leadership in our student/athletes,” Frost continued, “and it’s been very rewarding to watch former members of these Leadership Councils go on to become leaders at other prep schools and then continue to do so on the collegiate level.”
Frost hasn’t taken to the national stage just to be a presenter, however. He gets as good as he gives when he’s on the podium, such as he was in 2015 when he was summoned to be an award recipient for his and his team’s hard work. That year, under his guidance, Cardigan Mountain became the first school in New England and only the second prep school in the country to receive the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association’s Quality Program Award.
With Frost at the helm, Cardigan passed all 10 of the assessment categories the association sets forth for high school athletic administrators and then uses those scores for calculating the status of athletic programs and recognizing those that meet the exemplary level.
The amount of homework for athletic directors to simply apply for a Quality Program Award is extensive and in Frost’s case, “we filled seven binders with information on our athletic programs.
“Then,” added Frost, “once you’ve submitted your information, you must earn at least 80 percent of available points in all 10 categories in order to win an award. It meant a lot of hard work for a lot of people here, but it was worth it … it’s an award the entire school can be very proud of.”
Frost, who grew up in Chapel Hill, N.C., and attended nearby Durham Academy, followed his graduation from Franklin & Marshall with a three-year stint at Springfield College, where he earned masters degrees in Athletic Administration and Education. From there, he served as a physical education instructor and head lacrosse coach at The Kinkaid School in Houston, Texas, before joining the Cardigan staff in 2007.
“I think it’s good to attend conventions such as these whenever possible,” said Matt Lawlor, who has been heading up the Brewster athletic department for the past decade and was a self-described spectator at this year’s conference, “particularly if you want to remain on the cutting edge of change in high school/prep school athletics.
“You can learn a lot by attending these conventions,” added Lawlor, “especially through the presentations. I give Ryan (Frost) a lot of credit for getting up there and giving his reports on leadership. I’ve seen at least two of them and all the work he’s put into researching and preparing them has been well worth it … in my opinion, they’ve been both outstanding and very informative. He does a great job … it’s good for NEPSAC. “
The NEPSAC SPECIAL NEWS is sponsored by SportsGrub. SportsGrub provides athletic teams with nutritional meals delivered directly to their event. We provide a diverse menu that athletes can order from directly in our app. Don't just play to win, plan to win with healthy and delicious meals from SportsGrub. Contact us for more information at www.sportsgrub.com