Former FSHS coach Mike Gillman named new athletic director at Lawrence High

photo by: Contributed

Lawrence High's new assistant principal and athletic director Mike Gillman.

Mike Gillman, a former track, wrestling and football coach who recently served as an administrator at Liberty Memorial Central Middle School, will soon take over as Lawrence High School’s athletic director, the school district announced Monday.

Gillman, who has worked in the district for 16 years, will take over as assistant principal and AD at LHS on July 1. He replaces former AD Nick Wood, who resigned earlier this month after about a year on the job.

“I’m absolutely thrilled,” Gillman told the Journal-World in a phone interview on Tuesday. “I pride myself on serving our community (and) serving students of Lawrence. This is my community; I live here. My kids go to school here. I want to be a part of this.”

Gillman has a bachelor’s degree from Haskell Indian Nations University and two master’s degrees from Baker University. Most of his past work in the Lawrence school district has been as a teacher and coach, not an administrator.

He joined the district in 2005 as a paraeducator at Prairie Park Elementary School and later spent 10 years teaching social studies and English at West Middle School and three years teaching history at Free State.

As a coach, Gillman has 15 years of experience and has worked with the track, wrestling and football programs at West and Free State. The Journal-World recognized him as its all-area wrestling coach of the year in 2018 and 2019.

It wasn’t until last year that Gillman started working as an administrator. He took over as Liberty Memorial Central Middle School’s assistant principal and AD last summer.

“I’ve been coaching for so long and I just felt like … it was the right time to jump into administration,” Gillman said. “I did my duty as far as coaching. It was just the right time to move into the next phase of my life.”

Gillman said it was “definitely difficult” to step into a leadership role during the COVID-19 pandemic, when “every day is a new day and everything changes within a second.” But he also said he had plenty of support and was “surrounded by such good people that do remarkable things for the kids.”

“You’ve got to really concentrate on your decision process,” Gillman said. “Your decisions definitely change as they come. But if you surround yourself with people to help make those decisions and you don’t put yourself on an island, that definitely benefits you and helps you out in the long run.”

In his new role with Lawrence High, Gillman said he hopes to keep the Chesty Lions’ athletic programs competitive.

“My biggest goal is to make sure that we continue the winning tradition that we have at LHS,” Gillman said. “I’m ready to continue the tradition that Lawrence High has built and continue establishing the culture and climate that they’ve always pursued and do the best I can.”

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