August 13, 2017

RON COOKE/The Citizen
New Key West High School Athletic Director Sarah Eckert speaks with principal Amber Acevedo on Friday evening at Tommy Roberts Memorial Stadium.

RON COOKE/The Citizen New Key West High School Athletic Director Sarah Eckert speaks with principal Amber Acevedo on Friday evening at Tommy Roberts Memorial Stadium.

The first time Sarah Eckert visited Florida, it was to Key West at which point she said she fell in love with the city. So, when the opportunity came for the former Division I volleyball player to, not only move to paradise, but also advance her career she said it was a chance too good to pass up.

As a long-time assistant athletic director at Pine Ridge High in Volusia County, the Key West High staff saw Eckert as a fit to replace Neda Jackson as head of the Conchs’ athletic department.

“It truly was a dream when the position came open and the timing was right for what I was ready to do in my life,” said Eckert. “So the stars aligned.”

Coming from a 7A Pine Ridge as well as a coach at 9A Vero Beach High, Eckert said the transition has been smooth during her first two weeks, largely in part “really to the community feel of this area.”

“It’s a little bit smaller than where I’ve been, but I’m really excited about our coaching staff and how hands on they are,” said Eckert. “I’ve seen the growth and development of the school, so I really think things are heading in the right direction. I’m really looking to get the community back involved with the programs, because as I’ve been told the numbers can improve as well as participation. I just want to get everybody excited about it as I am.”

A Southern California native, Eckert has resided in Florida for the past decade after spending her college years playing volleyball in Indiana at Butler University and the University of Indianapolis and added she thinks she can be an asset in helping get players recruited to college.

“I think part of it is being open minded,” said Eckert. “Clearly I left Southern California and most people don’t do that, but when you have an opportunity you jump at it.”

Along with her husband, David, she said they have hit the ground running so far after their move and she is also ready to start tackling the bigger problems that she must take on as the new AD.

“Transportation, I already know that’s the beast, but I’m here to try to conquer it,” said Eckert. “I’m really going to be working on something reasonable that works for all the teams, to make sure we are still able to compete and get where we will need to be, but everyone has been great and very helpful compared to other districts I have been in. I just need to find my rhythm.”

jwcooke@keysnews.com