Local News

Engelbert excited for new administrative role at Waldron

At the age of 25, Alex Engelbert received a phone call to gauge interest in a job he never really considered.


Four years later, that job as athletic director at Central Middle School in Columbus (Ind.) led to his new role, athletic director and assistant principal at Waldron Junior-Senior High School.


“I was young but I ended up really liking it and went the administrative route with a master’s program,” explained Engelbert from his new office that he has yet to arrange to his liking. “I started seeking out more leadership positions and was lucky to get this one.”


Engelbert is replacing Ken Howell, who stepped aside at the end of the 2020-2021 school year.


Engelbert graduated from Columbus East High School in 2010 where he played baseball, tennis and football. He was a member of the Franklin College baseball team while pursuing his Education degree with an emphasis on Social Studies.


Indian Creek provided his first teaching position and funneled him into coaching baseball at the junior varsity and varsity levels.


“I always wanted to be a (baseball) coach. I love coaching,” he said. “It’s one of my greatest passions. There is nothing like after school every single day having your own team … kids waiting for you to tell them what to do. I found coaching so much more enjoyable and fun than playing.”


After two years in Trafalgar, Engelbert returned home for a teaching position at Columbus North High School where he also served as the JV baseball coach.


Then he received a life-altering phone call from a former baseball coach asking him about a new career path.


“I had never thought about being an athletic director,” he admitted.


The position at Central Middle School was coming open and he applied for the job. He maintained his role, though, as JV baseball coach at Columbus North.


The coaching career, one that includes a stint as a cross country coach, will officially be on hold while at Waldron where Engelbert also will get his first assignment as an assistant principal.


“It’s an interesting bridge to cross,” he said. “This is my first position in education where I won’t be involved in coaching. I am entirely administrative as assistant principal and athletic director. It’s an interesting thing to explore.”


Engelbert credits Howell’s thoroughness in prepping for the fall sports season to easing his transition to the high school level of athletics.


“The biggest thing I’m coming up to speed with is this is my first position as a high school athletic director so I am reading through all the (Indiana High School Athletic Association) bylaws and rules,” he said. “It’s much stricter than what we have at the junior high (level). So that’s a big challenge right out of the gate.”


Engelbert also has the advantage of having a principal in Mark Shadiow that is a former athletic director.


“I cannot emphasize enough what a great job Mark Shadiow has done with helping me out, helping me adjust, and getting me ready to take on the reins of this position,” said Engelbert. “And knowing he was an AD (at Waldron) and had this exact position before me is great.


“A lot of times, in leadership, you start to get principals without a strong athletics background. I am so lucky to come into a school, working for a man that has been an athletic director and been a coach, so if I have these questions about the IHSAA or what to do, he is right next to me. I am looking forward to working with him and learning from him.”


What Engelbert does not have to learn is the importance of athletics at any school.


“We want to try and focus on our participation numbers,” said Engelbert. “It’s a small school athletic program. We want to figure out ways to get as many student-athletes to participate as possible.


“Our education-based athletics are the best citizenship builders in our country. I think you would struggle to find a CEO, business leader, or elected official that did not compete at one time on a school-based team at a junior high or high school. They are an extremely important part of our educational program in general. We want to open that up and have as many kids participate as possible.”


Born and raised in Columbus, Engelbert has thoroughly enjoyed the community hospitality since his hiring less than one month ago.


“The small school, small town charm has been on full display,” he said. “I’ve had such a great welcome from Mark and multiple people here. I could immediately tell within days of receiving this job it was going to be a great fit.”