By Mike Deak
BOURBON – It was a Wednesday like any other in the athletic office of Mason McIntyre. Door is shut, piles of papers slowly sifting themselves down, cell phone buzzing every now and then with a text message.
As the clock got closer to 3:00 and the end of the school day was approaching, McIntyre settled back into his chair after having to solve some uniform and team photo problems with a persistent student. It was and has been part of his job description, putting out little fires at Triton High School for 14 years.
To say it’s enjoyable to constantly serve? Hardly. It’s what McIntyre was built to do.
McIntyre was the do-it-all athletic for Triton schools for much of his adult life. Taking the job virtually fresh out of college, McIntyre has not only become a face of the athletic programs at Triton, but also became the phone number, the email and the mechanic to make most of it run. Ever been to a boys basketball game at the Trench? Mason usually is the one turning on the music and the Star Spangled Banner before games. He sometimes sweeps the court. He’s in charge of the referees before and after the events, whether the fans are irate or not.
“My role ran together the past five or six years in a dual role as the dean of students as well, so toss that in there,” laughed McIntyre. “It really changed things on what all I had to do. When I started as athletic director, I was solely working on sports related items. I had responsibilities outside the office, but I had time to focus on just athletics. Last few years, academically, I’ve had to somewhat split that role. There is no typical day. I wish I had a typical day. Every day is different, and maybe that’s a saving grace in a way to keep me on my toes.”
McIntyre, himself a proud Triton graduate, has thoroughly enjoyed his role within the school he grew up in. He admittedly has had a hard time not living and dying with wins and losses as the blue and gold compete. Triton’s runs to state in basketball in the late 2000s and again about a decade ago were high on his list of memorable moments. But it didn’t have to be a banner moment for McIntyre to also appreciate his position within the context.
“It’s easy to point to boys basketball going to state, winning a state title, the Clay Yeo years, but watching Clay grow up during that process was exciting to me,” McIntyre said. “Abigail Powell just a couple years ago going to state in hurdles. Some of those football games, we struggled quite honestly for a few years, seeing coach (Rodney) Younis get the kids back into the sport, and then winning that sectional. Man, that was an awesome experience.
“Success breeds success. I could always tell how the rest of the year was going to go based on how the fall did. If the fall went well, those kids performed well. They got a taste of success, you would see them carry that on to the winter and spring.”
As McIntyre went through a host of program successes and milestones, the bell for the end of the school day chimed. You could hear the bustle in the halls, but his door remained closed and untouched. It was rare, he said, but he was used to it.
The undercurrent of McIntyre’s conversation was leading to leaving his chair at Triton and joining 2nd Mile Missions in Warsaw. Deciding to step away after spending about a third of his life serving his school was going to be tough. He wouldn’t have to sweep the basketball court, or call a mom to get a track top back to campus, or fix the stadium lights.
“That first football I ever did, the officials asked me for towels, I said no, they said everybody gives us towels, so I had to go get towels,” said McIntyre of one of his first memorable moments of folly. “It was little things that I didn’t know. They called for everyone to stand for the national anthem on my radio, and then I hear them ask, where’s the flag? I said, I don’t know! I look up and there’s no flag on the flagpole. It was buried in the concession stand. It was something that wasn’t talked about and I had to commit to memory, make sure the flag is on the pole!”
2nd Mile Missions has an office in Warsaw, a mission’s operation created by Rod and Nancy Wildman as an outreach program to build schools and offer support to communities in the Dominican Republic. McIntyre became aware of the organization and immediately was drawn to its purpose, and felt a calling. Taking a call from Wildman last September, McIntyre initially turned down an offer to be a principal at a school in the Dominican, but said after reading a passage from the book of Jeremiah gave him a new outlook.
As God gave Jeremiah opportunities to listen to his word over and over, McIntyre felt a parallel to the opportunities presented by 2nd Mile. “I’m like, I don’t think I’m Jeremiah, but one way or another, it felt like it was time to go. I called Rod back a month later and said if you still want me, I’ll come over.”
McIntyre leaves Triton after 14 years of service in the athletic department and as dean of students. Rick Yarbrough will replace him in the athletic office, and McIntyre promised to return to make sure he knew where the flag was, and that the foot of popcorn stays at $1.
“For me, this wasn’t a job for a good number of years. It was something you look forward to each day and you just did it,” McIntyre said. “I was 26 and had a lot more energy than I do at 40. I had a lot more to give back then. I think back to how much I was changed by experiences, I was also a student athlete here. There were some great people who influenced me. At some point, I realized I haven’t had a Friday night off in years. You realize you are working first and second shift. Then you add in my own kids and they are growing up and becoming involved. I wasn’t able to be there for them all the time because I had to go put on my athletic director name tag. You realize there are different points in life, and that this was becoming more of a job.”