New State College athletic director Chris Weakland acknowledged with a smile Monday that it wasn’t easy to keep his promotion a secret last week.
He received a call last Monday from the superintendent, letting him know the administration was moving forward with his name to the board. Weakland — State High’s current assistant principal — arrived to school the next day and struggled to hide his delight.
“It’s funny,” he said during a news conference at the Panorama Village Administrative Center. “I came into school on Tuesday and someone said, ‘You’ve got a bit of a different smile to you today, what’s up?’ I couldn’t share that, but it definitely made my day.”
The school board voted unanimously Monday, 9-0, to approve the administration’s recommendation of Weakland, making the promotion official.
The 1984 State College grad will succeed retiring athletic director Peg Pennepacker on July 1. His promotion will leave a vacancy for the assistant principal position, for which the district will soon seek a replacement.
Weakland, who spent more than two decades with the Little Lions’ schools, smiled for much of the 15-minute news conference while wearing a maroon tie. He called his new role “a longtime goal of mine,” while saying he has essentially prepared for this job for 27 years
“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be here and represent the school district and our community and our student-athletes and our coaches as the next director of athletics,” he said. “I’ve had my eye on this position for many years.”
Weakland’s wife Samantha and one of their sons, Mark, stood nearby while he emphasized different points by lifting his hands above the podium — like how he counts kindness, compassion and care as the three ingredients to success, and how he wants to promote unity within the State College culture. But the gathering wasn’t just a family affair.
Football coach Matt Lintal stood in the back of the classroom and nodded along with Weakland, while he passionately described what becoming the Little Lions’ next athletic director meant to him.
“I’ve known Chris since third grade,” Lintal said. “He was my 10th grade English teacher. Got my driver’s license from him when he was my driver’s ed teacher. He coached me when I was in high school, then we coached on the same staff together. Chris coached under me, and now he’ll be my boss again.
“He’s a guy I have a ton of respect for — and I’m just thrilled to be able to again be working directly with him.”
Weakland has worn many different hats over his 20-plus years in the district. He joined the faculty in 1990 as an English teacher and taught writing and literature. He worked as a driver’s ed teacher. He became dean of students, and he coached both football and baseball — before becoming the assistant principal and then the director of athletics.
Now State College’s new athletic director is looking forward to the job that he’s long hoped for — and he doesn’t have to keep it to himself anymore.
“I can’t think of a more exciting place for me to be right now,” he added.