Bunyon takes over athletic department

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Bunyon takes over athletic department

Varshini Ramanathan

Varshini Ramanathan

Varshini Ramanathan

Mehul Shrivastava, Managing Editor

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At the end of the 2016-2017 school year, former Athletic Director Dan Twomey replaced Michael Parent as one of the three deans of Westford Academy, and former head football coach Adam Gagne took his place for the following school year. After Gagne announced his resignation from Westford Academy, health and physical education teacher Jeff Bunyon became the new athletic director for the year.

Gagne told Westford Academy about his relocation to Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School in May, which put the search for a new athletic director into action by June. The school formed a committee of students, parents, and faculty to interview the nine candidates, some of whom were already part of the WA staff.

“He received a late offer and decided to go with that position at Whittier Vocational Technical School in Haverill, so I wished him well, and said ‘you’ve been a solid contributor to WA as a coach and a teacher and athletic director,’ so what else can you say, but good luck and best wishes,” Antonelli said.

Bunyon was hired by the beginning of August, and Principal Jim Antonelli hopes to see him as the school’s athletic director for a long time.

“They [students on the committee] really like the way he’s approachable, always a smile on his face, hard-working, really really good with students, and so it just seemed like a natural fit,” Antonelli said.

Twomey emphasized how qualified Bunyon was for the job both personality-wise and experience-wise, specifically mentioning Bunyon’s time as a college hockey official where he referees Division 1 college hockey at the NCAA level. According to Twomey, Bunyon effectively showed the school that he wanted the job.

“He took the necessary steps for seven or eight years to build those skills,” Twomey said.

After graduating college, Bunyon played pro hockey in Sweden, with an interest in experiences in other countries and sports. He then came back to the United States and settled down in Westford with his family, working as a sales manager for twenty years. As much as he enjoyed it, he was traveling too much and did not feel he was home enough, so he decided to change his line of work.

“There was a point in my life where I just wanted to do something different,” Bunyon said.

Bunyon made the decision to join education, with an interest in fitness and physical education. He was one of Westford Academy’s physical education teachers for eight years, until the position for athletic director was open. Bunyon submitted his application with confidence in his experiences in both sales and education.

“I look at the qualifications of what’s needed, someone that can understand a budget, someone that can manage a large staff, someone that can work with students and understand the culture of Westford Academy, and I just felt I was the perfect candidate for this job,” Bunyon said.

Initially, Bunyon was hesitant about switching his job since he enjoyed working with students in a classroom setting. After a month on the job, Bunyon has found it to be a lot of work, with his responsibilities including scheduling, organizing transportation, and coordinating middle school athletics, but he is excited for what the future holds.

“What inspired me to take this job right now is that I knew I could still work with all the students, but yet use the skills I had learned in college,” Bunyon said.

In his perspective, athletics are about lifelong skills such as teamwork, communication and dealing with stress, rather than just counting wins and losses, and he hopes to bring that into his work. Bunyon wants to effectively communicate with coaches and captains to ensure the best possible experience for student athletes, and he has an open-door policy so students and faculty and meet with him at any time without hesitation.

“My overall objective for Westford Academy athletics is to create a safe and inclusive environment where all students are respected and valued, while encouraged to do the very best they can, and learn life-long lessons that they will take far beyond Westford Academy,” Bunyon said.