By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
Debbie Stockard has always been perfectly fine with working behind the scenes.
She has never sought the spotlight.
She has never wanted any of the attention.
In her heart, both belonged to her Streetsboro Rockets student-athletes and coaches.
Where the irony enters, is that as the school’s athletic secretary, she commonly became the unsung hero in the daily operations and fitting for deserved recognition.
Even still, she purposely avoided it.
Now that she has announced her retirement, Stockard finds herself in a position she always worked so hard to escape: At the forefront of everyone’s thoughts.
But only because all of her co-workers and peers want to celebrate their friend and appreciate all she has meant to the Streetsboro district.
Stockard, whose final day was Friday, Feb. 2, ends a 21-year career at Streetsboro as a teacher, aid and the last 14 years as the athletic secretary.
Prior to working at the school, Stockard was a real-estate agent.
Stockard was first hired as an aid at Defer Elementary, then she was a special-education aid before taking a position in the computer lab. Working in the technology room provided occasional down time, which led to Stockard helping out in athletics, which eventually led to a full-time opportunity.
After working in a part-time capacity with four different athletic directors in four years — Gary Huber, Dave Hostetler, Bruce Johnson and Joe Timko — Stockard was hired as the athletic secretary in coordination with the hiring of Randy Tevepaugh as the athletic director.
“One of the contingencies for me was that I wanted a full-time athletic secretary. I knew that we needed one to get our department where we needed it to go. At that time, we had no athletic handbook, no coach handbook, no emergency action plan,” Tevepaugh said. “From day one, Debbie was an integral part in helping update all of our policies and procedures. Her computer background was way beyond mine, and she made all of our implementation much easier.”
Just a sample of the many tasks Stockard handled to help navigate through each day’s new adventure.
Scheduling, certifications, eligibility, the voice of the district and the woman that could answer all the questions and the creator of the department’s first website — long before other schools had built out a digital presence.
She had her own presence, too.
“Debbie has been the mother of all our coaches,” said Tevepaugh, who also said that he did not know Stockard prior to being hired at Streetsboro, but she very quickly gained his trust because of her diligence, attention to detail, personality and overall ability to get things done. “They love her, but they also know that she is serious about her job. Playfully, they nicknamed her ‘The Black Widow,’ because if they didn’t have their forms filled out on time and she came walking down to the field or to the gym, they knew she was looking for answers.”
Stockard’s commitment to completion was centered on getting the job done because there was always another job waiting for her attention.
“I enjoyed coming to work every day,” said Stockard, whose three children all graduated from Streetsboro — Christine in 1999, Tom in 2003 and Staci in 2005. “We laugh and we have fun, because we have a fun job to do.
“For me, it was always about the kids and always about the parents,” Stockard said.
Even in her own moment, Stockard finds a way to shift the spotlight to the kids and the parents.
While she takes a step back.
A permanent one.
Behind the scenes.