So far, things are going rosy for Roosevelt.
Well, not entirely – but certainly the transition between outgoing Scott Brunette and the new Nashville Metro Schools athletic coordinator Roosevelt Sanders has been a smooth one.
Sanders, formerly an assistant principal and coach at Glencliff High (his alma mater), leaned forward at his busy desk last week as he reflected on how things were progressing in his first two and a half months on the job.
“I’m gradually getting acclimated to the new job, the new surroundings,” Sanders, who had been at Glencliff since 1984 and had served as assistant principal since 1997, said. “It’s a blessing that (secretary) Mary Hill decided to stay around instead of at first thinking about retiring when Scott did. She’s been so helpful.”
Other than being an administrator, he has also served as an assistant coach in basketball, as well as head coach in both boys and girls track and cross country. That, as well as Sanders’ smooth temperament, added up to a good portfolio when the job became available.
Sanders, 51, was selected job over several applicants. He declined to say how many.
He started July 1 and oversees the athletic activities at 17 Metro Nashville high schools and 36 middle schools.
Asked about goals, Sanders said he had two specific ones:
• “I want to empower each coach with developing and growing his program as best he or she can and keep the lines of communication open as widely as possible.”
• “I would hope that each coach to grow in the knowledge of each sport he or she coaches, whether it is oversight, having clinics or giving out any information which adds to the growth of their sport.”
He added that the entire Metro body of each school can “come together” and maximize the concept of the student-athlete to emphasize the classroom work as well.
Sanders has been around sports most of his life.
He played on some outstanding Glencliff teams with players like Tommy Springer and graduated in 1977 as a three-sport athlete and played basketball at Calhoun Junior College in Alabama.
He transferred to Austin Peay where he played for coach Ron Bargatze and eventually graduated in 1982. He received his masters degree at Tennessee State.
“Roosevelt got my first call when I became coach at Austin Peay in the fall of 1980,” Bargatze who coached the Governors for four seasons, said. “After he finished at Calhoun, he appeared headed to Lambuth, but we wound up getting him.
“Roosevelt is one of my all-time favorite players I’ve ever coached. He was a 6-5 post player who competed hard and had the perfect attitude for a player and responded to coaching extremely well no matter how hard I may have been on him.”
Sanders was asked about moving away from the environment at Glencliff into a new one at his office on Bransford Avenue, near Melrose.
“It’s been a bit different being around one school for so long, then being an administrator to oversee so many schools,” he said. “I certainly can’t show any favoritism toward Glencliff or any school over another whether it’s Whites Creek, Pearl-Cohn, whoever.”
“Roosevelt will do an outstanding job,” Bargatze said. “He will treat each person the same. He will make the tough decisions in a fair way because he is a fair person.”
Sanders goes back to Brunette as the one who got him interested as being a possible successor once Brunette announced his retirement back in the spring.
“Scott has been a huge source of information and I lean on him and his experience,” Sanders said. “He was the one who planted the seed as to one day my being able to step into this job once we started talking about the possibility. I still lean on him heavily for advice. He’s been a wonderful mentor to me.”
“(Sanders) is doing a good job because he is so strong in two areas,’’ Brunette said. “He cares a lot about people and he works hard.”
He gives his successor high marks.
“We have been in communication with each other numerous times since he took over,” Brunette said. Asked to give Sanders a grade, he said, “I’d give him an A – he’s doing a great job.”