Thomas “Tom” Gochenour, Jackson High School’s new athletic director, is excited to be in a community that supports high school sports the way Jackson and Butts County do.
“When we (East Coweta) played Jackson here somewhere around 2005 or 2007, I really liked coming through the town,” Gochenour said. “I really liked the atmosphere at Red Devil Hill. That really triggered something for me, and 15 years later, to get that opportunity now since I’ve gotten out of the coaching part of it, this was a great opportunity for me.”
Originally from Virginia, Gochenour attended Ferrum Junior College in Virginia, then transferred to Carson-Newman College in Tennessee, playing football as an offensive lineman. While at Carson-Newman, Gochenour played on the 1986 NAIA I National Championship Team and earned All-America Honorable Mention. He graduated in 1988 with a Masters degree in Physical Education and Health.
His first teaching position was in an elementary school in North Carolina, then he went to Guilford College in Greensboro, NC, where he was the offensive line coach and offensive coordinator for six years.
Gochenour moved to Georgia in 1999 and taught and coached at Fayette County High School for three years. He went to East Coweta High School and taught and coached there from 2002 to 2017, then moved into a Coweta County middle school as an assistant principal for four years. But he knew he wanted to get back into high school sports as an athletic director, and jumped at the chance to come to Jackson after Mickey Moody resigned at the end of the school year to go to Spalding County.
“In Coweta County, I really felt being an assistant principal at the middle school, at this time and this part of my career, I might have been about as high as I could go, and I wanted to get back into high school, and I wanted to be an athletic director,” Gochenour said. “That wasn’t opening up for me in Coweta County.
“The good thing about Jackson, especially about coming in to my first athletic director position, I felt nothing is really broke,” he continued. “The administration with Principal Will Rustin does a really good job, and him formerly sitting in his seat really helped me get adjusted. The coaches do a good job managing their programs. So far that has made it easier. It’s been a good transition.
“This is my first athletic director in high school. But throughout my career, even going back to Guilford College, I was always involved in some form of the athletic director responsibilities. I’ve been fortunate enough to work for a lot of directors who weren’t micro-managers and would farm stuff out. So there was a lot of athletic director stuff I’ve been doing throughout my career. This was a career goal.”
Coming in during the summer break hasn’t been easy, and Gochenour is still meeting his coached. But he likes what he has seen so far and is happy to be at Jackson High.
“I don’t know what everybody else has,” he said “but I like what I see here.”