After 30 years in public schools, Paul Boschert spent a year in retirement before returning to his love of education and sports.
It’s at a place he loves, Duchesne High School, where he is a 1977 graduate and where he began his career as a teacher and coach. Though it’s no easy spot for a high school athletic director today with the
COVID-19 pandemic, Boschert is relying on his experience and the advice of authorities and his peers to navigate the uncertainty ahead.
Boschert was an athletic/activities director at St. Charles West High School from 2000-03 and Ft. Zumwalt West High School, 2003-19. In that latter job he was in charge of 22 athletic programs and 80 coaches, supervising events, scheduling, contracting opponents and officials, eligibility, evaluating and other duties. He has served since 1989 as St. Charles County umpire-in-chief, scheduling and supervising umps for an estimated 5,000 softball games per season.
Boschert taught and coached three sports part time at Duchesne after college until he landed a full time job at St. Charles West. After he retired, the athletic director position at Duchesne opened up when Debi (Westhues) Turner moved to dean of student services upon Kurt Clodius’ retirement. Boschert took the opportunity to give back to the school that set the foundation for his career.
Catholic education is important to Boschert, who was a regular at early morning daily Mass at St. Charles Borromeo Church before COVID-19. He’s a server, extraordinary minister of the Eucharist and lector and sings in the choir at Sunday Mass. He’s also firmly grounded in St. Charles, where his family has strong roots.
The pandemic is a challenge, he said, but in addressing other issues in the past he realizes “this is just another opportunity as an athletic director you get to deal with, though this will probably rank as the number-one issue.”
His approach is to take one day at a time — plan long range but adjust when needed. Parts of the metro area have varied guidelines, based on the number of COVID-19 infections in their area, so that adds to the need to be flexible. “We’re all set to go, it’s a matter of the county health officials and our leaders’ guidance,” Boschert said.
As of the third week in August, most teams were allowed to practice with an eye to the start of the fall season. Duchesne is allowing students to pick just one sport or activity during the season to cut down on a possible spread if someone tests positive for the virus.
“The goal is to get these kids involved. They’ve been shut down since March,” he said.
He tries to be present for and communicate well with all the coaches and players. High school sports are an extension of the classroom, Boschert said. “We learn many life lessons through sports. I’m living proof of that. The athletic program at Duchesne built a great foundation for me. It also gives you an outlet socially outside the classroom, working with others, developing sportsmanship. Kids need that. Being away from it last spring showed that, how much we missed it. That’s why we need to get back at it this again this fall.”
Sportsmanship is important to Boschert, who admits that as an athlete and in his early years of coaching he didn’t always treat officials with the respect they deserved. His work as an athletic director and with umpires has shown him the light, however. As athletic director, his schools won sportsmanship awards. “More than anything, I try to set the example of sportsmanship,” he said.
Kenny is a staff writer for the Review and a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Oakville.