ADs Gosselin, Hoyt and Padgett strong female leaders in Carroll County
From doing field maintenance and overseeing usage of the school building, to scheduling games, buses and ordering equipment — all while serving as the face and leader of an entire athletics program relentlessly competing for championships — being an athletic director is not for the weak.
But a strong leader can thrive in the face of all the challenges and accomplish great things for their programs.
For years, there has been a societal push for more diversity in sports management roles, including hiring and elevating women to high ranking positions such as athletic director.
Research published in 2022 found that only 21% of athletic directors nationwide were female. Many colleges have yet to hire a female athletic director. Morgan State University hired Dena Freeman-Patton as its first female athletic director last year.
With Winters Mill’s Jennifer Gosselin, Century’s Ashley Hoyt and Manchester Valley’s Liz Padgett, Carroll County has shown that not only are qualified woman available for these positions, but when given the opportunity to lead an entire athletic department, they can thrive.
Each serve as inspiration for students and peers looking to one day have a leadership role in athletics, all while handling all the behind-the-scenes tasks the public might not be aware of.
While all three humbly downplay any extra attention or praise that may come to them from being leading women in a male-dominated sports atmosphere, their impact has been seen throughout the county as they continue to lead their programs.
“The biggest thing is just exposure and allowing young girls who may want to become an AD in the future see through us that it is possible,” Hoyt said.
Padgett added: “It matters that kids see all kinds of people in all positions. It’s important for people to realize that there is no limit to what these kids want to do because their male or female, or the color of their skin or sexual preference.”
Padgett has been Manchester Valley’s athletic director since 2018, coming over after 13 years at South Carroll, where she served as a basketball coach and assistant AD. It was her
love for athletics and working with children that propelled Padgett to switch gears with her career.
“I started coaching girls basketball and I enjoyed it so much I left my job to take a teaching position,” she said. “I loved being around all the sports and the kids all the time.”
While to some, being an AD is just about being present at games, it’s the behind the scenes work by all ADs that keeps athletics in the county running smoothly.
Founded in 2009, Manchester Valley is one of the newer schools in Maryland. Padgett’s leadership helps develop the growing sense of pride among Mavericks nation.
“Coming from South Carroll, that’s a very embedded community, they have a very long history and they support each other,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed building an environment where the kids are like, ‘Yeah, we’re Manchester Valley Mavericks.’”
Gosselin, also a former basketball coach, was named athletic director at Winters Mill in 2017. She has a slight twist to her duties at times thanks to the unique location of her school.
“We are all in charge of facility use for outside groups, which I think a lot of people don’t know,” she said. “With Winters Mill in the center of town, everybody likes to use our school, so I have to make sure that the equipment and the rest of the building is always ready for the community we serve.”
Hoyt is in her first year as Century’s athletic director. After spending a decade in Vermont, some as a coach and athletic director simultaneously, she has had to adjust to life as an AD in Maryland.
“In Vermont, I didn’t have to do field work and down here I do,” she said. “So when it comes to the lining of the baseball and softball fields on game days and keeping up with the lines on the lacrosse field, a lot of people don’t even know we do that.”
As a former college basketball player, bonding with the two basketball coaches certainly helped Hoyt, who fit right in with the six other ADs in the county. She credits the mentorship from her peers as a huge reason for such a smooth transition.
“We collaborate all the time and lean on each other for different stuff,” she said. “It makes the job fun and it just it’s nice to have people that are so supportive around you.”
With the ADs supporting each other, the group then turns its attention to supporting coaches and athletes year round, often making themselves available after hours for those who may need support or simply, just a friend.
“My philosophy is, I’m available to my coaches all the time,” Padgett said. “You want to call me at 10 o’clock at night, I’m answering my phone, and I’m listening, even after a bad game I’m here.”
Gosselin often councils her peers, both men and women who come to her for advice as they look to prepare themselves to potentially follow in her footsteps.
“I have coaches, men and women, who asked me about the job and who are interested and asked me questions and it’s nice that they value my insight and opinion,” she said. “I make it a point to be available to anyone because it can be reassuring.”
Padgett and Hoyt both mentor interns, taking them along as they get a firsthand view of life as an athletic director.
“She does a lot of the social media with me and she’ll do a lot of work with fundraising and with our booster club,” Hoyt said. “Even she’s like, I have no I have no idea you do all this stuff.”
“They come in thinking, ‘Oh, we’re just gonna hang out some at games and do stuff,’” Padgett said. “Next thing you know, we’re dragging dirt on the baseball field and then they realize you can have a career in what you love. And it’s OK.”
All three acknowledge, they are fierce competitors and love watching their schools and athletes, and that will never change.
Despite this, the overall goal of the athletic directors is at the forefront of their minds as they continue in their positions.
“We want these young kids to have a great high school athletic experience,” Gosselin said. “We want to do our best to make that happen.”