New AD at HHS aims to fill some big shoes

These days, Max Heinrichs is a busy man. Fresh into his new role of athletic director and assistant principal at Hillsboro High School, Heinrichs has come to realize that, although retired AD James Thomas was of slight stature, he left some mighty big shoes to fill.

“James Thomas was just awesome at this job,” said Heinrichs, a Hillsboro native, HHS graduate and six-year district employee.

Heinrichs taught physical education and health and coached three sports a year during this, his second stint with the system.

Heinrichs worked in special education and coached at HHS during his first five years out of Tabor College. Then he spent eight years teaching and coaching at Minneapolis High School before returning to his hometown.

“My first goal is just to hold this job at the level that James Thomas held it,” Heinrichs said. “I want the same type of working relationship he had with coaches, administrators and kids. Later on, as I get into the job more, I might be able to find a few things to do to tweak it and make it better. It’s just mind boggling how much Thomas did.”

Heinrichs said he has been “blessed with a great group of coaches.”

“They are well-organized, and they like working with kids,” he said. “It’s kind of nice that I’ve worked side-by-side with almost all of them at one time or another.

Most recently, Heinrichs was an assistant coach for boys’ basketball and an assistant track coach. He also was an assistant football coach at Tabor College.

The new AD’s most pressing chore at the moment is finding enough coaches to fill all positions. He also needs to keep track of inventory, process equipment as it arrives and fill out paperwork.

“I have a lot of things to do before the first athletic events begin this fall,” he said.

For now, Heinrichs is concentrating on the AD job. Eventually, he said, he will pick up more of the assistant-principal duties.

“The first year will be a big learning curve for me,” he said. “I’m dealing with a lot of Rule 10 coaches (not certified to teach), so they need training and the proper forms. I plan to work with Dale Honeck (HHS principal) on teacher in-services and maybe get more into evaluation later.”

Heinrichs’ family includes Krista, his wife, and daughters Samantha, 11, Tara, 9, and Darcy, 4. The 1979 HHS graduate turned 40 in December. He said Hillsboro High School is exactly where he wants to be.

He began taking administrative classes shortly after returning to Hillsboro from Minneapolis. Last year, he had only one more class to finish when the HHS principal job opened up. He applied but didn’t get the position.

“I felt it was probably best to bring in somebody with experience anyway,” Heinrichs said. “I looked around at some other administrative jobs. Then Jim told me he would likely retire. So, I decided to stick around and take my chances. This is where I want to be.

“Someday, I would like to be a principal,” he added. “That’s my goal. This will be a good learning experience. I feel well-supported by the administration, and I am established in the community. I enjoy the faculty, the staff and the kids. HHS is a good ship.”

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