DANVILLE — This summer will be a very busy one for Phil Sexton.
He will not only be preparing the next season for Schlarman Athletics as Athletics Director, but he will also be transitioning to Principal at Holy Cross Elementary School in Champaign.
After three years at Schlarman, Sexton leaves with not only the success of the current programs, but also the return of programs, including his main goal of bringing back the football program.
"I was blessed to have (girls basketball coach Keith) Peoples and the girls win two state championships, but my main goal was to get the programs to be successful and get football back and activities," Sexton said. "I added junior high scholastic bowl and junior high speech team for next season and maybe a girls tennis team before I leave, so there are a lot of things that are in place to get Schlarman on the map and create the environment they have had in the 80's and the 90's."
The football team, who had been a part of a co-op with Hoopeston Area and Armstrong-Potomac, made the move to 8-man football by itself, which Sexton said will give current and past students a chance to spend a fall of Friday nights at Drummy Field.
"That was a huge goal. When I talked to the kids about having our own program, you can see the excitement in their eyes and it is going to help enrollment and school spirit," Sexton said. "I have already have had calls from alumni who are very excited about going to a game or having a class reunion around a game this season."
While the girls basketball teams have been very successful, Sexton was confident during his run that other teams have started a road to respectability and that numbers will continue to grow along with the pride.
"We are taking a step in the right direction with coach (D'Lando) Carter in boys basketball. The kids were young last year and they can break out this year," Sexton said. "Coach (John) Carnahan has the baseball team rolling and it always helps playing at the Stadium. Volleyball has been going real well and track and field has improved in numbers that went huge for us and we had two girls that went to state. So things are looking better.
"The participation is up. we brought in a lot of incentives for participating in sports. I brought the S Club back, which was big in the 80's and that gives incentive to kids who play more than one sport. We are starting to see more letter jackets and that gives the kids more pride."
In the meantime, Sexton is splitting time between Danville and Champaign, leaving behind information for his yet to be named replacement while setting things up at Holy Cross.
"I am trying to help them hire a new AD and make sure everything is ready for them when they come in. As far as scheduling, officials and we have the tournament schedules set for next year," Sexton said. "The IHSA still wants us to host events and we want to get that ready, so the person coming in can learn what I have done and put a new wrinkle on things. They are asking if I have any ideas or candidates. Right now, they are just searching and I have reached out to some of my colleagues who would be a good fit here."
Sexton said that while he will be closer to home at Holy Cross, he will never forget his years at Schlarman.
"It was a tough decision, but in the long run, I did what was best for my family. I have been a principal in the past, but this is a bigger challenge," Sexton said. "I would not trade my time at Schlarman for anything in the world. I met a lot of nice people there and I wish them the best of luck and I hope for the same success at Holy Cross."