TRAVERSE CITY — Cody Inglis called it "an opportunity of a lifetime."
The Traverse City Central athletic director will be leaving his position in January to become an assistant director with the Michigan High School Athletic Association. Inglis will serve as director of hockey, cross country, golf, and bowling. He will also assist with skiing and track.
"It's exciting, fun, bittersweet," he said. "It's everything. I'm still trying to wrap my head around it."
Inglis was notified just before the Thanksgiving holiday that he had been selected from a pool of more than 100 candidates to fill a vacancy created by the pending retirement of Randy Allen. He will be one of seven assistant directors working under executive director John "Jack" Roberts.
"I didn't envision myself leaving Traverse City Central for another high school," said Inglis, who was hired in February of 2008 as athletic director and assistant principal at the high school. "It's a great school, a great place for kids. We have a wonderful athletic program with a great sense of tradition and prestige. I wanted to continue to build on that. But an opportunity like this doesn't come around very often.
"And the great thing about this job is that I'll be involved in sports that I have a lot of experience in. It was like it was meant to be."
Inglis was instrumental in the creation of the Traverse City Bay Reps hockey team, a co-operative headed by St. Francis that’s now been in existence 15 seasons. He later served as an assistant coach. He also coached cross country and track at Suttons Bay and was named the Division 4 girls cross country Coach of the Year in 2002 after leading his team to a runner-up finish at the state finals. Prior to his arrival at Central, Inglis served 11 years as athletic director at Suttons Bay.
"I've lived here almost 20 years," he said. "The first half of my life I moved everywhere. The second half I haven't moved at all."
Actually, Inglis will be commuting back here on weekends until the end of the school year. His wife, Carrie, is a counselor at Traverse City West. Two of their three sons are in elementary school. The youngest is in pre-school.
"It was a difficult decision from the standpoint of leaving the comfort zone," he said. "I am absolutely blessed with a wonderful wife and ultimately her belief and support in this decision and belief and support of me was the push I needed to realize that this was not only the best thing for me professionally, but for us as a lifestyle change. Being an athletic director, it (job) takes a lot of your time and energy."
John Lober, longtime track and cross country coach at Central, said he understood the decision.
"Being an athletic director is a very demanding job," said Lober, who's worked under seven athletic directors here. "When you have 22 sports — or whatever we have here — there's a lot going on. Cody has a family that's young. He has to put himself in a position to look at the future and make sure he doesn't burn out.
"This is a great opportunity to go to the MHSAA," he added. "They don't hire people left and right. There are very few jobs that open there and when they come along they look for very high quality people. This is going to be our loss because Cody is one of the most outstanding individuals you'll meet in high school athletics. You can't say enough nice things about him. We should feel lucky for the time we had him."
Inglis will be in charge of the junior high and middle school committee in his new role. He will assist with the administration of the MHSAA’s Coaches Advancement Program as well.
“We had more than 100 candidates, including a half dozen of the finest ADs in America — not just Michigan," Roberts said in a statement. "They couldn’t be any better. Cody’s selection was based in part on his being just a slightly better fit to the job description we had in mind.
“He’s had to do some tough things as an administrator. But he’s got a personality that causes people to rally around him.”
Inglis has supervised a group of more than 100 coaches at Central, plus a group of more than 20 teachers and staff as part of his assistant principal duties. He's managed more than 100 MHSAA tournaments, including the state ski finals, football semifinals and hockey quarterfinals.
During his tenure, Central swept the Big North Conference All-Sports award from 2008-12, winning six state championships along the way. Suttons Bay, meanwhile, won the Northwest Conference sportsmanship trophy nine times and claimed two state crowns when Inglis was athletic director there.
"I've been truly been blessed with a lot of supportive people in my career," he said. "I certainly didn't do this alone. I think we're all byproducts of the people we surround ourselves with and I was able to surround myself with great people here and at Suttons Bay."
Inglis, who received the MHSAA’s Allen W. Bush Award in the spring, will be on the job for just a few weeks before his first state tournament — the hockey finals in early March.
"Jumping right in will be good," he said.
Central principal Rick Vandermolen said he's consulting with TCAPS administrators Sander Scott and Chris Davis in trying to work out a three-tier plan to replace Inglis.
"We're working to develop a short term plan to address the time between now and when Cody leaves (on Jan. 24), a mid plan for the rest of the year, and a long term plan as to what's best for our school and our athletes," he said.