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Donna Ferguson becomes Weir High’s first female AD

WORKING HARD — Weir High athletic director Donna Ferguson works in her office earlier this week. (Photo by Ralph Cox)

WEIRTON — Donna Ferguson, a teacher in the Hancock County school system for the past 10 years, has been named athletic director at Weir High School, replacing Mike Del Re who retired after many years in the classroom and the past five as AD.

Ferguson, the first female AD in Weir history, was the Red Rider swim coach from 2006-2013 and, most recently, was a ninth grade history teacher since 2010.

A native of the South Hills in Pittsburgh, Ferguson moved to Weirton upon her marriage to Bill Ferguson, who lived in Paris, Pa. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Edinboro University and a masters degree in history and secondary education from Franciscan University of Steubenville.

While the job description of athletic director encompasses more than athletics, it is athletics that consumes most of the time.

“Everything my family does revolves around sports,” said Ferguson, who is the mother of two. “My husband was an athlete at Union High School in Burgettstown and also served as assistant softball coach at Bethany College and later at Union High School. He was a fast pitch pitcher in the area for many years.

“I was a member of the diving and swim teams and also participated in track in high school. And, at Edinboro, I was a member of the dance team called the Tamoshanters. Both my son, David (D.J.) and my daughter, Kelsey, were members of the Weir High swim team, and D. J. was on the swim team at Bucknell University. Kelsey also was on the swim team at Marshall University for one year and at Eastern Illinois University for three years.”

Employed in Pittsburgh after graduation from Edinboro where she was involved with accounting, she studied accounting at the University of Pittsburgh. After moving to Weirton, Ferguson volunteered at the former Liberty Elementary School where the principal, Betty Gillian, encouraged her to get a degree in education.

After graduation from Franciscan, Ferguson began her teaching career in 2008 at Oak Glen Middle School and also taught at Oak Glen High School before transferring to Weir in 2010.

“One of the things I’ve learned through teaching is that there is a definite correlation between life and extra curricular activities while children are going through school,” she said. “I felt that as athletic director, I could have the opportunity to get better involved with the students outside of the classroom. When kids get involved in something — and it doesn’t have to be sports; there are plenty of other opportunities in just about anything a student is interested in — they get more interested in school.

“As a teacher, I felt that I’m not going to lose those kids along the way that participated in things outside the classroom. They would end up being more well-rounded and better able to cope with college and the world around them.”

Ferguson has already developed several goals such as dressing up the entrances to Weir with carpets embossed with the school logo, continuing with various school promotional points like the Athletic Wall of Fame and other areas that recognize students for their achievements.

“I want to strive to get more students involved both as participants and spectators,” she said. “And I want to work with the teachers to pick their brains about ideas and how we can all work together as a team.

“On the academic side, I want to make sure the students, especially the student athletes, get what they need academically. It can be grueling being an athlete, and I know they need support. I want to help continue the work that already has been done in that area.

“I also want to continue to support the coaching in the building of programs. I think one of the keys to successful athletic programs is to make sure our coaches are getting the training they need to bring back to the kids, and also to bring enthusiasm to the kids. Sure we want to win, but it’s not all about winning. It is about seeing the kids progress and develop.”

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