McDonough hires new ath­letic di­rec­tor

Has spent pre­vi­ous 10 years teach­ing in Charles

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­news.com

Just be­fore the start of the 2016-17 school year, Pamela Van Bellen will make the quan­tum leap from teach­ing fourth graders to as­sum­ing her new role as McDonough High School ath­letic di­rec­tor.

Van Bellen has been teach­ing in Charles County for the past 10 years, first at Ben­jamin Stod­dert Mid­dle School in Wal­dorf for one year then Thomas Hig­don Ele­men­tary School in New­berg for two years then Berry Ele­men­tary School in Wal­dorf for six years be­fore her cur­rent lo­ca­tion at Mary B. Neal Ele­men­tary School in Wal­dorf. She has also been a girls basketball and vol­ley­ball ref­eree in the county and served as the vol­ley­ball com­mis­sioner the past three years.

“For me, I have al­ways viewed sports as an­other out­let,” said Van Bellen, who played vol­ley­ball and basketball in high school in Penn­syl­va­nia and later grad­u­ated from the Univer­sity of Pitts­burgh-John­stown with a major in ed­u­ca­tion and mi­nor in math­e­mat­ics. “My dad, Jerry Thorn­ton, was a coach and sports has al­ways been a big part of my life. I’m hop­ing to help all of the pro­grams at McDonough grow.”

Van Bellen, who re­cently at­tained her Master’s De­gree from Ohio Univer­sity, is hop­ing to use her knowl­edge of play­ing var­i­ous sports and of­fi­ci­at­ing oth­ers to help her form an im­me­di­ate bond with the ath­letes and play­ers on the nu­mer­ous McDonough teams this fall, win­ter and spring.

“I know in high school a slot of stu­dents are into aca­demics, some are into per­form­ing arts and oth­ers are in­volved in ath­let­ics,” Van Bellen said. “I’m hop­ing that the stu­dents at McDonough will find the right out­let for them, whether its aca­demics or sports or the arts or a com­bi­na­tion of them. I re­ally want to see the pro­grams grow and I would like to see the en­tire school and com­mu­nity be­come more in­volved in the sports that we of­fer.”

Van Bellen has al­ready been wel­comed by the school ad­min­is­tra­tion although her first of­fi­cial day on the job will not be un­til this sum­mer. She will not be a teacher at

McDonough, since ath­letic di­rec­tor po­si­tions in Charles County are con­sid­ered full-time.

“Dave Brad­shaw and Dave Rooney have both been very help­ful and very sup­port­ive,” said Van Bellen, re­fer­ring to the tan­dem that has served as co-in­terim ath­letic di­rec­tors at McDonough since Ja­son Bur­sick left dur­ing the school year to ac­cept a po­si­tion with the Mary­land Pub­lic Sec­ondary

Schools Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion. “Through my years of teach­ing and of­fi­ci­at­ing in the county I have been able to get to know a lot of peo­ple in var­i­ous ath­letic de­part­ments and I think that fa­mil­iar­ity is go­ing to help me im­mensely this [school] year.”

Pamela Van Bellen

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