ST. JOHNSBURY — There’s a pair of new leaders in the St. Johnsbury Academy athletic department.
Alan Ruggles was named the interim athletic director while Kathleen Higgs is the new field house director, the school announced Wednesday afternoon.
Both positions were recently held by John Lenzini, who began his new role as the school’s associate headmaster on July 1.
Ruggles is a 1984 graduate of SJA, where he played football and baseball and has worked for the school since 2009, most recently as the alumni and development director.
In that role, he was a critical connection to the school’s 14,000 alumni, often focusing on honoring athletic teams and boosters for reunions and special events. His spreadsheets recording the school’s athletic accomplishments and awards are often the go-to sources for answers to athletic trivia questions.
In his new position, Ruggles will oversee an athletic program that serves more than 40% of the student body and 46 interscholastic teams.
“I am looking forward to working with the athletics department team, and appreciate the opportunity provided by the Academy,” Ruggles said. “With the teams and coaches here at St. Johnsbury Academy, we will continue to work towards adding to the school’s legacy of team and individual accomplishments and providing support to our students, so they excel in the classroom as well as in their respective sports.”
The school plans to re-open the hiring process for the athletic director’s position in October.
Ruggles will be joined by assistant athletic director Patrick Rainville, who will also be the boys varsity basketball coach. He was hired earlier this month.
Higgs has been the evening program coordinator in the field house since 2017, and recently accepted the newly created field house director job.
The AD traditionally handled the facility’s management, but the increase in school and community traffic necessitated separating the two positions. The building includes a pool, a field house with three basketball courts, a weight room, Alumni Gymnasium, locker rooms and athletic training offices.
In addition to scheduling space for the school’s athletic games and practices, Higgs will be responsible for organizing open time for the school’s athletic clubs and resident students, and multiple community partners who utilize the space throughout the year.
“I am excited to move into the position,” Higgs said. “I am especially looking forward to working with Alan, Patrick [Rainville], and the coaches, as we enter what hopefully will be a more normal school year for our students, athletes and fans.”
“I am incredibly optimistic for our students to have two excellent educators and people of influence working to support athletics and health and wellness for SJA and the broader community,” Lenzini said. “As athletic director for the upcoming school year, Alan brings invaluable experience: He knows the community well, he knows and values the traditions of Hilltopper athletics, and he is thoughtful about and enthusiastic to continue to grow and improve student learning experiences in athletics.
“Kathleen will continue to do what she does so well, and with greater impact. She makes fantastic connections with our students and champions their every effort and accomplishment. Her unbridled enthusiasm and work ethic are felt wherever she is invested, and I am so happy to have her in this role.”