There is a new athletic director/assistant principal at Homer Central School.
Todd Lisi was selected from an energetic group of applicants and named to the position by the board of education at a special meeting on July 16 and began his duties July 22. The position became open when Mike Carboine announced his retirement after 17 years as the Trojans’ athletic head.
Lisi, 37, comes from the Solvay Union Free School District where he’s been a teacher for 11 years and was considered a teacher on special assignment for two years during his administrative internship as an assistant principal. He was also the head varsity football coach the past three years. He married his wife, Valerie, in 2012 and they have a three year old son, J.J. (Jeffrey James), They will be making the move to Homer. The family currently resides in Baldwinsville and they would like J.J. to start kindergarten in Homer. Valerie Lisi will keep teaching in Solvay for now as well.
Todd Lisi is a 2000 graduate of Solvay and a 2005 graduate from Syracuse University. He was a walk-on in the fall of 2002 for the Orange football team and played three years. He was a member of the team during Paul Pasqualoni’s final year as football coach in 2004. Lisi started teaching at Solvay in 2006 while going to LeMoyne College to work on his master’s degree in elementary education and special education.
For Lisi, Homer held a special place coming here as a coach and would be the one lure away from his alma mater.
“This is the only job I would have left Solvay for,” Lisi said. “I taught and did my administrative internship at Solvay. I was fortunate that the superintendent (Solvay’s Jay Tinklepaugh) had a very good relationship with Syracuse University where I was able to take my administrative courses while still teaching and coaching to get my CAS (Certificate of Advanced Studies). To finish that program I needed an internship and Jay Tinklepaugh gave me a full-time internship as an assistant principal at Solvay and I could still coach. After my internship, he asked if I wanted to come back and I said yes. I think that really helped me and our football program to improve because I was around the kids all day, I was around the coaches and I was able to monitor things and see things I didn’t see when I was teaching at the elementary school for six years. It really was a blessing in disguise. Towards the end of my internship, my plan was to go back to teaching at the elementary school. From an administrator’s point, there really was not anything out there that would make me leave Solvay. I walked the hallways for 25 years as a student and staff member. Something special would have to pop up and it would have to be amazing. It just so happened that this position came up in June. When I saw that, it just rang through my body. The excitement was there before I applied and the second I hit the accept button for the application, I knew my life had changed. Homer is a special place.”
As a coach for the Bearcats, Lisi saw many things that put Homer in a positive light.
“Home games and even away games when Homer came to Solvay, you get this feel from the student body and the fans you don’t get anywhere else,” he said. “It’s not just the sportsmanship piece, but it’s the community. This is us! It’s who we are. When you come to Homer for a game it usually didn’t go well, but as you were leaving the field and getting on your bus, it’s different. You’re upset you lost, but the fans, those students and the parents who say ‘you guys did a good job.’ It’s not in a sarcastic way because they won, it’s a feeling that these people are genuine. They care about their community, but they also care about you coming into their community. They accept you, even though it’s just a night. I always told my self that this is a community and this is a program that I wanted our football program to be like when I was at Solvay.”
Being like Homer in terms of success on the field meant finding out why. “It’s youth sports programs,” Lisi said. “We didn’t have as many of those so it starts in the youth programs even before the kids are in seventh grade. In all those conversation with Coach (Gary) Podsiedlik, I never expected to be sitting here. It’s been surreal so far.”
Ironically, they have become good friends as rival coaches. Now Lisi is Podsiedlik’s boss.
“If it looks like that on paper then I guess it is,” Lisi said with a lot of laughter. “What I am saying to every coach in every sports program is we work together. My job is to get them what they need. From improving your coaching staff, improving your players and to help improve the community. That goes for every sport. I am going to be that guy to try and get everything you need. Whether it’s professional development for coaches to help them grow. Whether it’s improvements for the players like equipment and jerseys, I’m here. I will make sure the officials are there. I will make sure the concession stand is open. I’ll make the scoreboard is lit up. I’m here to support the coaching staff. It’s not a boss-employee relationship I’m looking for. If it wasn’t for every coach in this program, there would be no athletic director. I’m coming into a well-established athletic program. How can I make sure that it stays the same if not get better. How can I enhance it to make it better? Working with each coach and making it peer-to-peer to improve every team.”
While his primary responsibility is being athletic director, Lisi will spend some time throughout the rest of the schools in the district.
“The title is really an enhancement of the position,” he explains. “It helps get me in the other buildings and getting me more involved with the students. I wants us to be able to reach out to parents and their children and help get them involved in a sport at a young age. Let them know what sports are out there. How can we get them (the students) involved and how can we get those parents excited and involved.”
Todd Lisi will set goals for as long as he is in Homer, but the first year will be a little different.
“My first year plan is to be an observer,” Lisi stated. “I want to see what’s going on and not make change. One of the reasons I was so excited to come into this athletic program and community was there doesn’t appear to be any changes needed from looking from the outside because everything is working so well. That’s a blessing right there. I’ll just observe each program, each coach and see if there is something in talking with the community, working with the booster club and talking to the students. I just want to be defined as someone who is everywhere. Just like Mike (Carboine) was, I want to be visible, watching, listening. After that we can begin those conversations about changes or enhancements.
“My vision, and I’m a firm believer in it, will be to getting the community involved, getting the child and the family involved from the day they are born. I want to get people excited about our programs I want to get the people involved because I don’t want a conversation 10 years from now about cutting sports. Every school is having those conversations now because of numbers. Nationwide the numbers are going down. It doesn’t have anything to do with being successful because you see it right now in Westhill. They have gone to a 7-8-9 grade program from modified and JV football. We want parents to know there are things we have to offer at school. Maybe it won’t be sports in the end. It could be music or something else, but be involved. Don’t go through your years at Homer and not try something. I talk sports because it’s my job, but, in reality, my job is to make sure every student that comes through here has an overall positive experience.”