Astor to head athletics, activities

Elsbecker taking FDSH assistant principal position

When it comes to athletics and activities, Kevin Astor has been a participant, an assistant, a head coach, a volunteer, a parent — and always an advocate.

Astor’s sense of perspective comes from experiencing every corner of the high school spectrum on a personal basis. The 1984 Fort Dodge Senior High graduate is hoping to parlay his all-encompassing point of view into a successful stint as the school’s next athletics and activities director.

Fort Dodge Community School District superintendent Dr. Jesse Ulrich announced on Wednesday that the 53-year-old Astor will be taking over for Matt Elsbecker, effective July 1. Elsbecker has accepted an assistant principal position at FDSH.

Astor, currently in his seventh year as a high school vice principal himself, called Ulrich’s decision “an incredible honor” and one that “I will put everything I have into the job, out of respect for both the position and Fort Dodge Senior High.”

“I obviously have a lot to learn and a ton of time to put in, but I’m going to do my very best. This is my home, it’s always been my home,” said Astor, a four-sport athlete at FDSH. “I’ve been a part of a lot of different athletics and activities at (varying) levels (within the FDCSD). I’ve coached at Iowa Central. I’ve helped out through the Y and AFES. I’ve seen things from so many seats … I hope to use that to my advantage.

“This has always big part of who I am and what my family is all about.”

Astor received his bachelor’s degree from Coe College in 1988, where he played football and was a national qualifier in track. He finished his master’s degree at Iowa State University in 1995.

Astor has been either a teacher or an administrator in the FDCSD for all but one year since 1991. He’s also worked at schools in Illinois and Minnesota, as well as in the Harlan district.

Astor’s professional and personal time hasn’t solely centered around athletics, however. He was a member of the FDSH band through graduation, and his children have been involved in various non-sports related events as Dodgers themselves.

“The activities are very personal to me,” Astor said. “I fully understand that to a student involved in band, choir, a play, the musical or the arts, their time and effort is just as important as an athlete is to their team or program.

“Our role as teachers and motivators is to help kids find their passion and stick with it — to stay as active as possible and experience as much as possible. Every program, from athletics and activities through the arts and others, will receive my full attention.”

Astor’s wife, Julie, has been a physical education teacher in the FDCSD for over 20 years. They have four children: Lexi, Kati, Geoff and Jon.

“It’s very humbling to think about the years of leadership from this position,” Astor said. “My own personal experiences range from Dutch (Huseman) and Don (Miller) all the way through Tom (Kinseth) and Matt (Elsbecker). Just to be mentioned among those people and knowing everything I’ve taken away from my interactions them … I want to continue in that Fort Dodge tradition.”

Elsbecker is finishing his sixth year as athletics and activities director at FDSH. The former Dodger baseball coach said the move to assistant principal was “an emotional decision for me,” but added, “at the end of the day, I want to be closer to the classroom again and make more of a difference with teachers and students.”

“I’ve truly appreciated my time in this role. It’s been a terrific learning experience, and helped me understand who I am professionally,” Elsbecker said. “I’m looking forward to taking on a new challenge and being more in the trenches, so to speak, as an assistant principal. I’ve missed that day-to-day interaction with the kids.

“I’m happy to take a step back and a deep breath at this point in my career and find another way to make a difference in Fort Dodge.”

Elsbecker is a 1987 graduate of Bancroft-St. John High School. He holds bachelor degrees from Briar Cliff University and Buena Vista University, and a master’s degree in Education/Administration from the University of Northern Iowa.

Elsbecker took over the FDSH baseball program in 2002, and has lived in Fort Dodge with his wife, Melissa, and their five children ever since.

Ulrich is looking forward to seeing both Astor and Elsbecker function in their new roles.

“I’m excited for Mr. Elsbecker and Mr. Astor to be in positions that match their passion and skill sets,” Ulrich said. “Fort Dodge Community School District is fortunate to have two leaders who have spent the majority of their careers in our district serving our students.

“I’m also excited for them to continue utilizing their strengths to better the educational experience for our students.”