By Nelson Coffin
Jodi Blackburn won’t be the only person taking on a new role when the fall sports season commences at Garrison Forest later this month.
The Glyndon native will be just one of several folks that will be part of a changing landscape in athletics administration and on the field.
Blackburn will, however, have the most challenging position, considering that she will be the interim athletic director at the school after taking over for former longtime Athletic Director, Traci Davis, who held the position from 2005 until the end of the 2019 spring sports season.
Those are big shoes to fill, and Blackburn, who was the AD at Montrose School in Massachussetts for five year before moving back to Maryland three years ago, knows that her job is to make the transition as seamless as possible.
“I just want to build on the greatness that Traci brought to Garrison Forest,” said Blackburn, 59, who graduated from nearby Franklin High School before playing field hockey and lacrosse at James Madison University. “We honor that here.”
Having been Davis’ assistant for two years should help matters for Blackburn, who will also welcome new field hockey (Malcolm Belin), soccer (Derek Phillips), volleyball (Titorian Richards) and cross country (Lisa Winebrenner) coaches into the fold.
Blackburn said that although she helped Davis with scheduling games, transportation and officials, her assistant, Josh Breto, “is doing a better job than I did” with the complexities of what can be a daunting task.
Blackburn said that a fun goal will be to bolster the Lower School athletic programs on the Owings Mills campus.
“It’s an exciting time to be here,” she said, noting that there are also renovation plans in the making on the indoor polo arena for the Grizzlies’ vaunted polo squad that plays year round. “We also have a new relationship with adidas that’s going to be fun — you know, look good, play good.”
In addition to her athletic duties, Blackburn is also a member of the dormitory faculty, embracing another role with open arms.
Chris Hughes, the new Garrison Forest Head of School, said that Blackburn is full of great ideas and great energy.
“She cares deeply about the people involved in the athletics program, from the players to the coaches to the staff supporting the program, and she works to make sure that everyone feels engaged and connected,” he added. “Jodi is also thinking strategically about the long-term development of GFS athletics. She is interested both in the teams and players we have today as well as the program that will develop our players of the future.”