December 31, 2023

Women Transform Sports Scene as Athletic Directors

3.1 min read| Published On: December 31st, 2023|

By Kyle Coppola

Women Transform Sports Scene as Athletic Directors

3.1 min read| Published On: December 31st, 2023|

Inspiring women leading the way in Lake County athletics.

Mount Dora Christian Academy’s Megan Ziegelhofer and Tavares High School’s Tracey Hanson are making waves in the world of high school sports as the only female High School athletic directors in Lake County. 

With a combined 20+ years of experience in education, they share a common mission: empowering young women to achieve success and equality in a field traditionally dominated by men.

Megan, who held the position of Lake County’s sole female athletic director at the high school level for several years, is passionate about guiding young students toward collegiate opportunities. 

“There are too many stories of students who forget that in order to be successful at the next level – both on and off the field – academics come first, so we really try and hit on this point,” Megan says.

Tracey, echoing her sentiments, says: “While private and public schools differ in many ways, we both encourage our students to maintain their GPAs and aspire to achieve the success they deserve.” 

Tracey, now in her 13th year in education and seventh at Tavares High, draws from personal experience to stress the importance of academics in post-high school careers.

The pair hopes to inspire young women and show them that they can excel in any field they choose.

“It takes effective communication to be an athletic director,” Megan explains. “I want to ensure that when people visit our campus, they know exactly what to do and where to go. I always send a welcome email to our visiting schools. That email contains a campus map, directions to the facility, what each team needs to bring along with them and more. 

“I think it’s a common feeling for a parent to think that ‘Game Night’ and everything it entails just happens by magic. The teams show up, the officials are there, and the concession stands are going . . . There are so many steps in that game planning process for every game where poor communication or no communication can really throw a wrench into things.”

Megan’s meticulous approach fosters a welcoming environment that ensures that patrons enjoy their time at MDCA events.

Both women hold high school sports in high regard, as “the purest form of athletics in the USA.” And both share concerns about the potential impact of Name Image Likeness (NIL) deals in Florida high school athletics. NIL deals would allow high school athletes to capitalize on their status to earn money, potentially compromising the purity of the sport. 

“Right now, this is as pure as it gets; I worry that if this comes about, that purity will be compromised,” Megan says.

Megan Ziegelhofer

Tracey knows the purity of sports firsthand. Her son Trey Hanson earned a college scholarship through hard work and determination, becoming the first Tavares High School boy’s weightlifter to do so. He now lifts for Brewton-Parker College in Georgia.

These two dedicated women have encountered numerous obstacles on their journey. However, they both emphasize the importance of forging meaningful connections. As the only two female athletic directors, they lean on each other for support and encouragement, recognizing the significance of relationships. 

“In my opinion, the relationship component of being an athletic director is probably the most important part of my job,” Megan says. “I believe for our students to be successful both on and off the court or the field includes having somebody they can rely on, along with having somebody who also relies on them. This tends to create a desire in them that helps them work that much harder, both in their sport and in the classroom.”

Both athletic directors want students to understand the tremendous effort that went into reaching their positions. While urban areas like Orlando, Tampa, and Miami may have more female athletic directors, rural communities also offer opportunities. In high school sports, these two women exhibit exceptional courage and leadership.

“Even though recruiting is changing, we are going to make sure every student has the potential to have a solid foundation to have a chance at the next level,” says Tracey. 

Tavares High has had notable success, sending 10 students to colleges and universities just last year. MDCA, under Megan’s leadership, has sent over 70 athletes to play at colleges and universities in the past six years. Both women are committed to increasing these numbers in the years to come.

The future holds great promise for these remarkable women. Although their programs differ in curriculum, athletics and school boards, they share a common dedication to securing the success and long-term future of their respective institutions. Megan and Tracey are inspiring young women to dream big, work hard and shatter barriers in the world of athletics. 

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About the Author: Kyle Coppola

Kyle Coppola was born in Newton, Massachusetts and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communications from Curry College in 2016. After traveling to Florida on a family vacation, he decided he could not get enough of the warm weather and made the move from snowy Massachusetts to central Florida 8 years ago.

For the last decade Kyle has gained valuable experience in social media content creation, marketing and sales, writing, video production, sports announcing and even broadcasting for local radio stations, such as FM 102.9 in The Villages and FM 91.5 in Massachusetts. Every year he volunteers at The Villages Charter High School as a play-by-play sports announcer for the football games as well as a public address announcer for the basketball games, including the annual Battle at The Villages Tournament.

Outside the office Kyle is a husband and father to two beautiful girls along with their cat. In his spare time he likes to spend time with his family, travel, play golf and swim. He is also a huge sports junkie and even bigger motorsports fan and loves to attend racing events when he can.

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