BEALLSVILLE - Chris Pagano is well aware of the challenges that are currently facing Beallsville High School.
That didn't deter him in the least from exploring a return to the place where he began his teaching career in 1995.
Along with the special education teaching position, Pagano was also hired during a special meeting of the Switzerland of Ohio School Board as the Blue Devils' new athletic director.
"I made some connections in the last six months and realized I wanted to go back (to Beallsville) if anything became available," Pagano said. "I learned of the teaching position, so I looked into that and then they approached me about the possibility of becoming the athletic director."
Pagano is replacing Jordan Stephens, who held the post for one year.
A 1981 graduate of Centerville High School in suburban Dayton, Pagano earned his bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Bowling Green and a masters in education from Regent University. He taught at Beallsville from 1995 until 1999. He then accepted a position at Union Local, which is where he's been since.
"I just wanted to go back," Pagano said. "Some doors opened that I didn't anticipate happening and I see it as a good career move and situation. I was more than happy to take advantage."
With the financial plight of the Switzerland of Ohio School district and a key levy vote coming up this fall, the future of Beallsville High School is seemingly up in the air.
"I know (closing the school) has been a consideration, but for me, it's nothing I am worried about," Pagano said.
Though Pagano has never been an athletic administrator, he has plenty of experience in sports.
He was the boys basketball coach at East Richland Christian and has coached multiple AAU basketball teams in the last five years.
Pagano will begin his new role on Monday. He's holding a meeting with Beallsville coaches and from there he'll begin transitioning into his new position.
"My approach is looking at the task that needs done now, give it all I've got and then move on to the next task," Pagano said. "I feel like if I am efficient and on top of the things I can control that way, through the course of events, things will start to turn in our favor."
During his previous stint with the Blue Devils, Pagano realized how supportive the community was and how competitive the kids were. He's hopeful that both of those ingredients have remained the same.
"Beallsville has quite a (tradition) for being such a small school," Pagano said. "The kids who go there overwhelmingly want to participate in athletics. Some of the issues of late are undoubtedly related to the uncertainty of the future, but I believe the past traditions can continue."
The Blue Devils' football team is battling low numbers. At the team's media day last Wednesday, there were just 16 players on the roster.
"Obviously, that's an up-hill battle, but if the kids are ready to go and the coaching staff is good to go, you won't see me say anything but go," Pagano said.
Chris and his wife, Alyce, are closing in on their 25th anniversary. The couple, which resides in St. Clairsvile, has three children, Hannah, Guy and Duncan.
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