Simulated flyover of Fort Mill’s planned Catawba Ridge High School
With the hiring of Rick Lewis, the Catawba Ridge Copperheads have their first athletic director.
Currently an athletic director in one of North Carolina’s biggest high schools, Lewis comes from Myers Park in Charlotte with nearly 30-years’ experience behind him as a coach and AD. He will begin his new job with the Fort Mill School District after he retires from the North Carolina education system at the end of December.
“He has a pretty impressive resume,” said Catawba Ridge principal Dee Christopher. “Coach Lewis has a wealth of successful experience as a coach and athletic director. His ability to plan, communicate and build relationships will benefit our school greatly as we look to create a positive, student centered athletic program.”
Christopher said that Lewis was one of 30 applicants for the job. The district narrowed down finalist to five, and then two. Christopher added that Lewis’ references were impeccable.
“His ability to lead a department as a successful coach and athletic director stood out,” Christopher said. “His successful experience was important to us. I feel fortunate to have someone so close.”
Lewis said being the first athletic director at a new school was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
“The only way I was going to stay in education was if it was something unique,” he said. “Everything is going to be unique. To have an opportunity to be a part of that is special.”
At Myers Park, Lewis oversees about 900 athletes in a school of 3,400 students. Catawba Ridge is slated to open with about 900 students total. Lewis has been at Myers Park since 2001 where he served as head basketball coach for a decade before taking over as athletic director in 2011. He also served as head basketball coach and athletic director at North Stanley in the late 1990s before coming to Myers Park.
While at Myers Park, his sports programs have finished in the top five annually in the Wells Fargo Cup since 2001, which recognizes them as one of the top athletic programs in North Carolina. He also helped to raise close to $1 million for student athletes and overseen the completion of projects like a new gym, football stadium renovations and a new weight room construction. Lewis said he is looking forward to a small community and student base in Fort Mill compared to that of Charlotte.
“Being new to South Carolina, there will be a learning curve for me,” he said. “My goal is to make sure we have every team filled and have every game we can play.”
Catawba Ridge will start with ninth, 10th and 11th grades in the school’s first year. Catawba Ridge already has eight football games scheduled for its inaugural year in 2019, but is still looking to fill two more spots. The Copperheads will play in Region 4-3A, the same region as Indian Land is in, but will have an independent schedule in football, much like Nation Ford did its first season. They Copperheads begin playing region in football in 2020.
In every other sport, Catawba Ridge will open with a regular schedule that will include Fort Mill and Nation Ford on it, if scheduling can be agreed upon, Christopher said. Catawba Ridge will first play Fort Mill and Nation Ford in football in 2020.
Mac Banks: firstname.lastname@example.org, @MacBanksFM