McDonough hires new athletic director
Has spent previous 10 years teaching in Charles
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