Titan alumni Jake Leicht was hired on as the new athletic director early last month.
The 2009 Taylor graduate previously taught English at the high school for six years. He later coached the varsity basketball team for a couple of years until this job opportunity came up.
“Basically I grew up here. I went to Taylor my whole life,” Leicht said. “So, this just fits my personality perfectly, especially in this school where I’ve really given everything to this school my whole life. I’ve just been here. So, it’s just a natural fit, combining sports, my love for Taylor, and it all just comes together. I’m just really comfortable in this position.”
Leicht played football, basketball, and baseball for the Titans. After graduating, he attended Franklin College and played football for the Grizzlies for a couple of years before transferring to Purdue University to finishing out his undergraduate career with a liberal arts degree in English education. Leicht took a teaching job at Peru High School immediately after finishing his bachelor’s degree, while also helping coach varsity basketball and football for the Tigers. He currently is finishing his master’s degree in educational leadership at Western Governors University.
In his new position, Leicht hopes to help bring the Taylor community closer together. He believes recently there has been a gap between the elementary, middle school, and high school sports programs. According to Leicht, it’s imperative to start making connections and building relationships with students much earlier.
“The biggest thing I’m trying to get our coaches to understand is right now they’re (the student-athletes) in elementary school, but in five or six years, they’re going to be members of your team. And I think sometimes we forget that. Coming together, bringing everyone together, is my number-one goal,” Leicht said.
During his time as a Titan athlete, Leicht said he had many great coaches and mentors, including his varsity basketball coach, Jeff Fisher, whose “blue-collar” mentality of working hard and doing things right the first time Leicht admired. Additionally, Leicht’s football coach, Josh Ousley, taught him the importance of a positive attitude and always tried to better others and build relationships with his players, according to Leicht. He said these skills now are paying off for him professionally.
Even though Leicht had less time to prepare for the athletic director position due to being hired after the new school year already had begun, he said having so many people in the school system willing to help him made the transition much less difficult. According to him, the previous athletic director and current assistant high school principal, Steve Dishon, and high school principal, Eric Hartman, have been his biggest guides.
At age 28, it’s possible he could be one of the youngest athletic directors in the state, Leicht said. To him, this will have a positive impact on the future of Taylor.
“Personally, this job just means the world to me. This school means the world to me,” Leicht said. “I’m young. I have a lot of energy. I have a great support system. My family has been great with this. It’s going to take a ton of energy and effort to keep pushing our programs to the next level. We have really good athletes. We have athletes that want structure. We have athletes that want to be loved, and they want their family to be a part of this community. It’s my goal to give them that structure, that leadership from the top, and let it trickle all the way down.
“I want to provide stability because we need that right now more than anything, that stability from the top, and I think with our superintendent, with our administrators, at the education level, I think we’re there. And I think that’s why we’re improving rapidly within our own school system and now with the athletic department. I want to provide that same stability.”