Top cat leaves CK athletic program

Two years from now, John Sitton is planning on retiring after putting in 31 years as an educator and coach.

Looking that far ahead, he decided that now would be a good time to hang up his hat as the athletic director at Central Kitsap High School after a three-year stint.

“In two years, if we (his wife Cindy Hjelmaa is the activities director, a department chair and class advisor at CKHS and also plans to retire in 2006) just walked out the door, it’d be a disservice to the kids,” Sitton said.

He plans on cutting out his duties as adviser to the senior class and the associated student body in 2005.

“The good thing is that we’ll still be around to advise our replacements,” he said.

To fill the void left in his schedule, Sitton said he’ll likely teach ecology or biology next school year.

“I want to be engaged more with the students,” said Sitton, who served as the Narrows League president in 2003-04.

He’ll remain as an assistant coach on the softball team.

Sitton’s announcement comes on the heels of Olympic High Athletic Director Robert Polk’s decision to take a job in the Everett School District as its district director of athletics, health, fitness and activities.

That leaves the Central Kitsap School District without athletic directors at its two largest schools. The part-time position involves hiring and firing coaches, arranging schedules and transportation and conducting grade checks, among other responsibilities.

“The hardest part is problem solving and being informational which requires a lot of time that is not always available,” Sitton said of the athletic director’s job. “The second hardest part is springtime which is an amazing thing if the weather gods aren’t on your side” like they weren’t in the rainy 2003 season.

His departure leaves big shoes to fill.

“I hired him (in 2001) because of his experience, knowledge, how he deals with people and he’s a great role model for the student and other coaches,” CKHS principal John Cervinsky said. “This is a stressful position and it takes a special person to do it. John has pulled it off as well as anybody could.”

Sitton, who started his teaching career at West Bremerton High in 1976, said having a great working relationship with school administrators and teachers is one of the strong points of the CKHS athletic program. All but two athletic teams finished their seasons with at least a 3.0 grade-point average.

“All the athletes know there’s no way around their studies,” he said.

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