As the new athletic director-assistant principal at Eagle Valley High School, Tami Payne likes what she sees in Devils country.
"We have a lot of raw talent here, and it's a matter of putting that to its best use," Payne said. "There's a lot of passion in this building, and it's a matter of showing that to the community."
Payne comes to EVHS from Berry Creek Middle School, where she worked as the assistant principal last year. Prior to that, she was dean of students-coordinator of student achievement at Cherry Creek High School. Her undergraduate work was in business communications and public relations, and her graduate degree is in school administration. She has worked with college athletes and done a lot of coaching.
"This job at EVHS is everything that I have ever done in the past rolled into one position," Payne said.
As she begins her work at EVHS, Payne said her goal is to build the school climate through academics, athletics and activities. She said a firm foundation already exists for that work.
Last year, there were 720 students enrolled at EVHS, and of that number, 205 participated in one sport, 196 participated in two sports, 37 participated in three sports and one participated in four sports. Additionally, 151 students participated in clubs and activities. Those numbers are strong and they demonstrate how EVHS is producing well-rounded kids, Payne said.
And, she said, she is a walking example of what can happen when kids are motivated and supported as they look toward life beyond high school.
"I was the kid I am trying to promote," she said.
Payne attended Barton County College in Great Bend, Kan., on an athletic-academic scholarship. Her sport was softball, but she also got involved with the cheer program because of her background in elite gymnastics competition. She became the school mascot, which led her to the University of Kansas, where she was the Jayhawk mascot, Baby Jay. (Incidentally, it will be interesting to see how that piece of personal history plays out this year because EVHS Principal Greg Doan was the Kansas State University Powercat mascot during his college years.)
Payne said it's a bit early for her to be talking about what she wants to do with the EVHS activities and athletic programs because she is still learning about the school's culture and history. But with that said, she believes great things lie ahead for the Devils.
"We are going to build on the Eagle Valley identity and bring back the legacy," she said. "This is a great community."