A name from Penns Valley’s past has returned to lead the Ram athletic program.
The Penns Valley Area School District’s board approved Nate Althouse as the new athletic and community relations director at its monthly meeting last Wednesday.
Althouse, who recently moved into the school district and will have a son, Spencer beginning school in the fall, returns to the building after coaching the boys’ basketball team from 1996-2002 while also serving as an elementary guidance counselor. He will begin his duties with the school May 19.
“It seemed like a natural fit for what I had been doing,” Althouse said. “Also it was my desire to contribute to the community here in Penns Valley.”
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Althouse, a Penn State graduate who played for the Nittany Lions through 1995, had the background the district was seeking for the position. In addition to basketball, with additional work as a PIAA basketball official, he has been at Penn State as the assistant director for the Morgan Academic Support Center for Student Athletes, tracking academic progress for athletes on campus.
That work helped set him apart in the new position with dual roles, not only with athletics but also in disseminating information to the community.
“In public school districts we feel its more and more important to build that relationship with the community,” school board President Chris Houser said. “We felt that Nate gave us the best opportunity to both provide direction for our athletic programs and to be the guy to help us communicate with the Penns Valley citizens.”
Houser noted Althouse’s work with Penn State’s Varsity “S” Club as another current job component that would help in his role at Penns Valley.
“We felt Nate fit both roles very well,” said Houser, who was part of an 8-1 vote approving the hire. “He’s had a lot of experience with relationships with donors and everything at Penn State. We felt his role in that capacity helped in the role with community relations, and her certainly had an excellent background as an athletic director, being a coach, a teacher, a referee and being successful in every aspect, he was a good fit.”
Althouse beat out 31 other applicants for the full-time position, which comes with a three-year contract and will pay $65,000 annually. Previously, the job had only been a part-time post.
“The toughest part of the job is going to be finding the balance between the two,” Althouse said. “The public relations portion is a new portion as far as job titles go for the school district. That will be an evolving work in progress, making sure the public and the parents in the community are better aware of what’s going on. Finding the balance and finding it quickly will be important.”
He will join his wife, Sasha, in the district. Sasha has been a special education teacher in the high school for a dozen years, and the two met during his previous time at the school. That history and connection, however, did not have as much impact on the decision to hire Althouse as his experience and background, according to Houser.
Althouse takes over the position after Don Hosterman was fired in February. The long-time athletic director is acused of stealing $390.75 from school athletic events in January and February, and has been charged with theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property.
Hosterman also is under investigation for the disappearance of more than $24,000 from the Mountain League, for which he was treasurer, although no charges have been filed in the case.
Houser declined to comment on the case.
“We’ve really stayed out of that,” he said. “We turned everything over to the police and it’s in the court system.”
Others in the building, including high school Assistant Principal Laura Tobias, have been handling many of the position’s duties since Hosterman’s termination. One of the most challenging parts of the job has been dealing with the many postponements of spring sports events, including baseball and softball, because of the weather.
“We knew it was very important that we find someone sooner, as soon as we could,” Houser said. “Nate fit that bill. Without having an athletic director for the last six, eight weeks, that put tremendous strain on our existing administrator personnel.”
Since Hosterman hired Althouse nearly two decades ago, and also has been a basketball official, the two have a long history, and Althouse does feel a little awkward taking over the post.
“It’s difficult,” Althouse said. “That’s where I got my start and I’m forever grateful to Don for giving me an opportunity coming out of college that I wouldn’t have had anywhere else. It’s also a tough time for the community. It’s going to lead to making sure our protocols are in place. I think that might be a priority — and this goes on with the public relations part — that we have accountability moving forward.”