Southern’s Donohue Selected County Athletic Director of the Year

By DAVID BIGGY | May 15, 2019
Photo by: David Biggy Southern Regional Athletic Director Chuck Donohue Jr. recently was selected as the Shore Conference's Ocean County Athletic Director of the Year.

Stafford Township — Sometimes, when Chuck Donohue Jr. is tweeting about the athletes within the Southern Regional athletic programs, he probably should be paying closer attention to what his wife, Tamara, is saying instead of fooling with social media.

“She isn’t always happy about when I’m using my phone, because sometimes it’s in the middle of a conversation,” said the Southern athletic director with a laugh. “But I think everybody knows ... I really love this school and the athletic program. I really respect our athletes and enjoy watching them compete. And in whatever way I can promote them, I’m doing it.”

No doubt, colleagues throughout the Shore Conference have suggested that Donohue start teaching workshops on how to use social media to promote an athletic program. He’s a Twitter titan, after all, constantly getting things out there about current athletes at Southern, and about former Rams competing in college, and some at the professional level.

“Social media is a big avenue we can use and it’s an easy tool to use to promote our programs. And it’s still free to use, so that’s good,” he said. “We represent our community and in a lot of ways – and even if this is an unpopular thing to say, it’s the reality: our athletic programs are the face of the school district. Through social media, I’ve tried to put my own niche on how we communicate our success and the great things about our programs and athletes.”

Perhaps that’s a large reason his colleagues recently selected him as Ocean County Athletic Director of the Year, but most likely not the only reason. Still, the humble and often soft-spoken Donohue could barely bring himself to talk about it.

“I was nominated by John Germano from Barnegat and Chris Ferrone from Point Pleasant Borough,” he said. “I voted for Chris, because I like what he does, I like his demeanor, and their kids exemplify a lot of great athletic qualities. But for some reason, a lot of them voted for me, and I was kind of shocked by it.”

Nobody at Southern is shocked. After it was announced, ironically, on social media, the congratulatory messages were dealt in droves. Every coach, administrator, staff member and athlete – Southern field hockey coach Jenna Lombardo and Brian Zatorski, the Rams’ former girls track and field coach and currently an assistant principal at the middle school, among them – had nothing but great things to say about Donohue, who’s been athletic director for seven years.

“This is the first time I won this,” he said. “But I take it as an athletic program award, not an individual award. We believe we’re one of the top athletic programs in the state and we’re proud of that. But there are a lot of people who are part of this program, and every one of them contributes to our success.”

Donohue’s right hand, Susan Spaschak, who as the athletics administrative assistant handles many of the calls and goings-on regarding officials, scheduling and transportation, to name a few, is among the top of his list as key factors in Southern’s athletics success.

“We get a lot of support from the administration, because they believe athletics is a big part of the educational process,” Donohue said. “Eric Wilhelm is the best principal anywhere, and he’s extremely supportive of me and what we do. But I wouldn’t be able to do anything I’m doing without Sue. She’s the glue of this department.”

While that may be true, Donohue’s passion comes out in just about every aspect of the job. Not only does he constantly monitor the progression of every athletic program within the district, he has made it part of his routine to promote the college signings of any senior – regardless of the sport or which level of college athletics he or she may be competing in the future.

And he still manages to make time to be an assistant for his father’s football program in the fall.

Of course, it’s all part of a bigger purpose.

“As far as football, I still believe I can contribute to what my dad’s doing here,” he said. “But without a doubt, with everything else I do, I want the kids in our school now to understand that they can be here and achieve their dreams. I want kids to walk down our hallways and see all the plaques and trophies and realize that they can get there if they work hard. Their success is about our community’s success.”

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