Chris Straits already had a connection with Franklin Academy Middle School athletics, having coached the school’s baseball and basketball teams last year.
Now, as the Franklin Academy athletics director, he wants to strengthen the connection between the middle school and high school.
“Mainly what I would like to do is develop a fluency between the middle school and the high school, so when they leave to go to the high school they know what to expect,” said Straits, who officially took over the role in July.
The first step, he said, is to start even further down the line with the elementary school.
The school’s intramural program is open to students in grades 4 through 6. Straits hopes to bring on more intramural coaches with experience playing the particular sport at a high level, such as coaches from the high school teams.
“The goal is to make intramurals more of a sports focus than just an after-school activity,” Straits said. “We want it to be a feeder program eventually.”
Principal David Mahaley said the change can benefit student-athletes on and off the field.
“Having a continuum of a single program such as athletics helps with a system of continuity and consistency,” he said. “I think we can take advantage of the opportunity in that the majority of our students are going to travel through our entire program.”
Straits took over Franklin Academy athletics after Ninon Hentz resigned to focus on teaching.
Before, Hentz was juggling teaching with running the athletics department.
“It just became something that they decided it would be more beneficial to have someone solely dedicated to the athletics department,” Straits said.
Straits had personal ties to the school, as his wife is an English teacher at the middle school and his son attends the elementary school. His professional background gave him experience on the sports administration side.
He directed recreational athletics with the Salvation Army in Raleigh for four years and then for the YMCA in Wakefield for two years.
“He brings a wealth of experience,” Mahaley said. “He has years of time working with youth athletics, so we hope to rely upon those skills to continue our athletic program upon the path that Ms. Hentz began.”
During Hentz’s three-year tenure, the charter school joined the N.C. High School Athletic Association.
Straits takes over as the school is going through a slight change, moving from the Carolina 12 1A/2A Conference to the North Central Athletic 1A Conference.
Several of the schools Franklin previously competed against will also make the switch, so the change is not drastic, but it still presents opportunities for new partnerships and rivalries, Straits said.
“We’re just looking to be successful both on and off the field,” he said. “At the end of the day, people might remember a score, but they’ll always remember how you were off the field.”