“Get better every day.”
That’s the philosophy Danny Nobbs hopes Culpeper County High School’s athletic teams follow this year - his first as athletic director at his alma mater.
Nobbs, a 1997 CCHS graduate and a 2002 graduate of Shepherd University, returns home after serving as athletic director at Rappahannock County High School.
Prior to that, Nobbs entire coaching and teaching career took place in Culpeper County - starting in the spring of 2002 as a Junior Varsity Baseball Coach. He taught and coached at CCHS until 2008 when he moved across town to the then new Eastern View High School, coaching baseball and teaching family and consumer sciences until last year.
Then, this summer, he saw a job opening that he knew he had to jump at. CCHS and former athletic director Trish Oliver parted ways, opening a spot for Nobbs.
“I didn’t expect it to open for a while, and when it did I said that’s one of the top choices for where I’d like to be so I applied,” Nobbs said.
Nobbs said that while he has just one full year of being an athletic director under his belt, he’s prepared for whatever the position throws at him.
“The position of athletic director, you really won’t know until you’re thrown in,” Nobbs said. “My undergrad was sports administration, I learned a lot at Shepherd at what to expect. You really don’t know until you’re thrown into the fire. Anything and everything was learned fast. I was prepared for the job, but there’s a lot of little things that goes on that people don’t know about.”
Those responsibilities are varied. The athletic director makes the schedules for all the teams, arranges transportation for teams that are traveling out of town, checks eligibility for all student athletes, helps connect the school with the booster programs and much more.
“Basically, any aspect that goes with the game,” Nobbs said. “It could be something as simple as food. Most people overlook the safety issue. Weather is a whole other thing. You have to make sure players and coaches are safe.”
One of his main missions this year is connecting the school and the Blue Devil Boosters group. He wants to make sure that the athletic teams have a strong support system behind them.
“I want to get the community involved,” Nobbs said. “Dr. (Daniel) Soderholm (CCHS principal) is making that a point of emphasis, to make the community feel like this is their school. It is the namesake of the county. We want to connect with the alumni. That’s going to be the main thing - making the school feel like home again.”
Nobbs said they are looking for ways to honor Pee Wee Chapman, who passed away recently and was a standout basketball player for the Blue Devils in the 1970s. They’re also coordinating with members of the 1999 football state championship team to honor them during a game this season.
One of his main goal is to restore something that has been talked about for years in Culpeper - “Blue Devil Pride.”
“I think last year the athletic teams had pretty good success,” Nobbs said. “There’s been four or five years in a row that someone has competed at the regional or state level.”
The barometer of a strong athletic school is the football program, and this year the Blue Devils have a new head coach in James Ford.
“He seems like he’s going to be good for the students,” Nobbs said. “I think Coach Ford is a good guy, he cares about the athletes. Armani Hoffman has a couple (college) offers already.”
While football is important in Culpeper, the Blue Devils are known for their basketball program. State champions in the early 70s, the teams are still talked about in coffee shops in the area and the program has been led by Billy Thornhill and James Thompson in the past 20 years - adding a level of consistency.
“Those coaches are legends, they’ve been in the game for a long time, it doesn’t matter who they have, they’re in the mix,” Nobbs said. “There’s something about this place - JT has a consistency and a philosophy he sticks with and it’s proven over time to be successful.”
The basketball team will have a new gym floor to play on this year, marking just some of the major cosmetic upgrades the school has seen in the past few years.
“Anytime you get shiny and new, it boosts morale,” Nobbs said. “The scoreboards in the gym are collegiate material. The new press boxes, the Wifi at the stadium. The grass surface out there (the football field) is one of the best in the area. We’re going to have credit card machines at the concessions - there’s more in the works.
“The goal is to get a new look with an old-school kind of feel,” Nobbs said.
Part of that old-school feel is instilling a working class mentality to the school.
“It’s control the controllables,” Nobbs said. “In reality in sports, there’s days you just want to be the best you can. That’s going to be the philosophy pretty much this year - get better every day. It’s never an easy process. We’re hoping the athletes work hard and we hope the coaches work hard.”