Seven high school athletic administrators will be inducted into the 11th class of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) Hall of Fame December 17 during banquet festivities at the 50th annual National Athletic Directors Conference co-sponsored by the NIAAA and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
This year’s conference will be held December 13-17 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland.
The 2019 NIAAA Hall of Fame class includes Holly Farnese, CMAA, retired athletic administrator in the Upper Darby School District in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, and currently executive director of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Directors Association; James Gagen, CMAA, retired athletic administrator, Rockwood School District, St. Louis, Missouri; Richard Kemper, CMAA, retired director of athletics, St. Christopher’s School, Richmond, Virginia; Scott Lindgren, CMAA, retired director of athletics, Kenosha (Wisconsin) Unified School District; Doug Smith, retired director of athletics, Naperville (Illinois) North High School; Sheri Stice, CMAA, retired associate athletic director and coordinator for secondary physical education and Special Olympics for the Cypress (Texas) Fairbanks Independent School District and currently NIAAA Certification Program Coordinator; and Faye Thornton, CMAA, retired athletic administrator, Cynthiana, Kentucky.
Following are biographical sketches of the seven members of the 2019 NIAAA Hall of Fame class:
Holly Farnese, CMAA
Holly Farnese, CMAA, is in her second year as executive director of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Directors Association (PSADA) after retiring in 2016 from an outstanding 40-year career in education in the Upper Darby School District in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania.
Farnese began her career in the Upper Darby schools in 1976 as a Spanish and German teacher, as well as a field hockey, gymnastics, and track and field coach. She assumed the duties of athletic administrator at Drexel Hill Middle School in 1983 and served in that capacity for 25 years, becoming one of the state’s leaders in the athletic administration profession.
In 2008, she was appointed athletic administrator at Upper Darby High School and served in that capacity for eight years. After a brief two-year retirement, Farnese accepted a two-year contract as PSADA executive director in May 2018.
After becoming an athletic director in 1983, Farnese quickly became at the local and state levels, where she was an Eastern Delaware County League president in 1987-88. She began serving on the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) District 1 Committee in 1986, becoming its secretary in 1988 – a position she still holds today.
Prior to becoming PSADA executive director in 2018, Farnese had extensive contributions for the past 20 years. She has served on the PSADA Executive Council since 1999, including a term as its president from 2002 to 2004. She also was a member of the PSADA Strategic Planning Committee and chaired the PSADA Professional Development Committee for 18 years.
In recognition of her statewide service, Farnese was named PSADA Athletic Director of the Year in 2004, and she was inducted in the inaugural class of the PSADA Hall of Fame in 2016.
Farnese’s contributions to athletic administration at the national level are even more extensive. She has served as an instructor for an amazing 18 Leadership Training Institute courses, and she has been a National Faculty instructor for 13 courses. With her expertise as a middle school athletic director, Farnese wrote the original Leadership Training Course 700 – Athletic Administration: The Philosophy of Middle School Athletics.
Among her many other areas of service nationally with the NIAAA, Farnese was a member of the NIAAA Awards Committee in 2004 and 2005, and she was secretary on the NIAAA Board of Directors from 2006 to 2012. She was a member of the first NIAAA Strategic Planning Committee and was co-chair of the Programs Committee for the fourth Strategic Plan. She also was a member of the NIAAA Blue Ribbon Panel and has been vice-chair of the NIAAA Accreditation Committee since 2016.
Prior to her selection for the NIAAA Hall of Fame, Farnese has been honored with the NIAAA State Award of Merit (2002), the NIAAA Distinguished Service Award (2005), the NFHS Citation (2010) and the NIAAA Award of Merit (2013).
Farnese earned her bachelor’s degree in secondary education and Spanish from Bloomsburg (Pennsylvania) University and a certification in German Language Education from Villanova University.
James Gagen, CMAA
James Gagen retired in 2002 from interscholastic administration after a career that spanned four decades. After starting as a teacher and football coach at East St. Louis (Illinois) Assumption High School in 1971, Gagen was an assistant football coach at Washington University in St. Louis for two years before returning to the high school scene in 1974 as a teacher and coach at Wildwood (Missouri) Lafayette High School in the Rockwood School District.
Gagen began his administrative career in 1978 as athletic director at Lafayette High School and remained in that position until 1989 when he assumed the North Region athletic administrator position for the Rockwood School District located in western St. Louis County.
In 1993, the Rockwood School District opened Marquette High School and Gagen joined the staff as the school’s activities director (and head football coach for one season) and served there until he retired in 2002.
Since 2005, Gagen has been the regional program coordinator and an adjunct faculty member at William Woods University, working with athletic/activity administration curriculum, and since 2016 he has directed the online master’s in athletic administration programs.
During his career, Gagen was active in several local organizations. In 1986, he served as president of the Greater St. Louis Athletic Association, and from 1994 to 1996, was president of the Suburban South/West Athletic League. He was also active in the St. Louis Suburban Public High School Athletic Conference, serving as recording secretary from 1992 to 1994 and as president from 1996 to 1998.
Gagen had extensive contributions to athletic administration at the state level through the Missouri Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA). He was treasurer (1992-97), president (1997-99) and past president (1999-2001), and he was the state’s Leadership Training Program coordinator for four years and CAA test administrator for five years. Since 2005, he has been the MIAAA retired members coordinator.
Gagen also assisted the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) in a variety of ways, including helping to start the New Athletic Directors Workshop. He was instrumental in the MSHSAA bylaw change which made athletic administrators eligible for the MSHSAA Board of Directors.
Nationally, Gagen served on the NIAAA Certification Committee from 1992 to 1998, was a member of the NIAAA Leadership Training Program National Faculty from 1998 to 2003 and served on the NIAAA Awards Committee from 2000 to 2005. He also was a member of the NIAAA Strategic Planning Committee in 2001 and was a presenter at two National Athletic Directors Conferences.
Among his numerous awards, Gagen received the NIAAA State Award of Merit in 1998, the NFHS Citation in 2000 and the NIAAA Distinguished Service Award in 2015. In 2009, Gagen was honored with the Gerald Linneman Lifetime Achievement Award from the MIAAA.
Gagen earned his bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis and his master’s degree from Kent State University, where he began his career in 1969 as graduate assistant football coach and athletic trainer.
Richard Kemper, CMAA
For more than 50 years, Richard Kemper, CMAA, has been a leader of athletic administration in the state of Virginia and nationwide. He spent his entire career at St. Christopher’s School in Richmond, Virginia, and became one of the nation’s first executive directors of a state athletic administrators association in 2001.
Kemper joined St. Christopher’s School in 1964 after graduating from Emory and Henry College (Virginia), and he remained at the school until 2006. Kemper became the school’s assistant director of athletics in 1969 and remained in that position until 1990 whenhetookoverasdirectorofathletics. When he retired in 2006, the athletic center at the school was named the Richard H. Kemper, Jr. Athletic Center.
He also was the school’s head football coach from 1972 to 1999, winning 60 percent of his games and leading the program to back-to-back Virginia Preparatory League championships in 1990 and 1991. Kemper’s overall football coaching record was 141-107-7, and he earned the Virginia Prep League’s Football Coach of the Year award four times. He also was head basketball coach for three years and coached baseball and tennis at the junior varsity level.
The Virginia Prep League was led by Kemper, first as executive secretary from 1973 to 1990, and then as its executive director until 2006.
Kemper’s involvement with the Virginia Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (VIAAA) has been extensive. He has been a VIAAA board member since 1994 and served a term as VIAAA president in 2004-05. In addition, Kemper was the VIAAA State Conference Treasurer in 1997 and2002. He also served eight years as VIAAA/NIAAA State Leadership Training Coordinator and has been assistant state coordinator since 2007.
Also at the state level, Kemper was a founding father of the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) and has served as VISAA executive director since 2001. In addition, he was executive director of the Virginia Independent School Football Association from 1994 to 2001. In 1998, Kemper was named VIAAA Athletic Director of theYear, and he also has received the John C. Youngblood Lifetime Achievement Award from the VIAAA.
Kemper was a trailblazer at the national level as well. In 1996, he participated in the NIAAA’s first leadership training seminar, and he was one of the early athletic administrators to earn both his CAA and CMAA certifications. From 2000 to 2009, Kemper served on the NIAAA Certification Committee, including three years as vice-chair of the committee.
Kemper serves on the NIAAA National Faculty for Leadership Training Class (LTC) 615 (Turf Management) and LTC 619 (Curb Appeal), and he was co-author of LTC 618 (Management of Athletic Equipment) and LTC 620 (Awareness and Management of Concussions). In 2017, Kemper was asked to be on the NIAAA Academy staff as a Quality Program Reviewer.
In the early years of the National Executive Directors Council (NEDC), Kemper served as the organization’s secretary.
Kemper has been recognized at the national level with an NIAAA State Award of Merit (1999), the NIAAA Distinguished Service Award (2005), NFHS Citation (2007) and the NIAAA Thomas E. Frederick Award of Excellence (2015).
Scott Lindgren, CMAA
Scott Lindgren, CMAA, retired in 2011 after 41 years with the Kenosha (Wisconsin) Unified School District.
As the coordinator for athletics, activities, health, recreation, physical education and senior citizens in the Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD), Lindgren was responsible for a large population. In athletics, Lindgren was responsible for approximately 230 coaches in 10 schools for 24 years. He also was in charge of the district’s physical education program for 12 years involving 59 instructors and 36 schools, as well as the Senior Citizens Center for 10 years. Prior to his administrative duties, Lindgren was dean of students for seven years and a physical education teacher for 10 years. He continues to serve on the KUSD Athletic Hall of Fame Selection Committee and the KUSD Athletic Code Appeal Committee.
During his career in Kenosha, Lindgren also served as both a coach and official in addition to his work as an athletic administrator. He coached football for seven years, wrestling for two years and track for nine years, including seven at the Division III college level. Lindgren also officiated football for 28 years (13 in the NCAA), wrestling for 12 years (five with the NCAA) and track for 15 years. Since retiring, Lindgren has returned to officiating high school and college track.
Within the Wisconsin Athletic Directors Association (WADA), Lindgren has been an NIAAA Leadership Training instructor since 1999, and was the WADA’s representative to NIAAA section meetings four times. He has also been the co-chair of WADA’s handbook publications, and a presider at WADA workshops. Lindgren was the WADA’s president in 1995 and vice president in 1993. He has attended all WADA conferences since 1987 and was the WADA representative to the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Board of Control in 1994.
From 2003 to 2010, Lindgren represented District VII on the WIAA Board of Control, serving as president in 2005. He also served on the WIAA Soccer and Basketball Officials Selection Committee, and he hosted numerous WIAA events at Kenosha.
A lifetime member of the NIAAA, Lindgren was a member of the Board of Directors from 2000 to 2002. He also was a member of the Certification Committee for seven years, including two years as chair. He is also the author, national chair and instructor for Leadership Training Courses (LTC) 700 and 701. He also was an instructor at the state level for LTC 501 and LTC 503 for four years. Lindgren also served on the NIAAA Awards Committee, and he represented the NIAAA for a four-year term on the NFHS Hall of Fame Screening Committee.
Lindgren received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and his master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He has received many honors during his career, including the Andy Anderson Award for outstanding service to the WADA in 2002, the District VII Athletic Director of the Year Award from the WADA in 1998 and 2011, and the 2010-11 Wisconsin Athletic Director of the Year. In 2012, Lindgren was inducted into the Kenosha Public School Hall of Fame, and in 2013, he was inducted into the WADA Hall of Fame.
Lindgren’s other NIAAA awards include the State Award of Merit in 1996, the Distinguished Service Award in 2005 and the Thomas E. Frederick Award of Excellence in 2012.
Doug Smith, CMAA
Doug Smith retired in 2011 after 27 years as a high school athletic director at three Illinois high schools. Including his six years as a teacher and coach to begin his career in secondary education, Smith devoted 33 years to high school teaching, coaching and athletic administration.
After teaching and coaching at East Peoria Community High School for six years, Smith was assistant principal and athletic director at Monmouth High School for five years, followed by 14 years in a similar position at Woodstock High School. He concluded his education career as athletic director at Naperville North High School for eight years.
During his time as athletic director at the three Illinois high schools, the various teams won 80 conference championships, 50 Illinois High School Association regional titles, 25 IHSA sectional titles and eight IHSA state championships. He started an Athletic Hall of Fame at all three schools, and he developed student leadership programs at Woodstock and Naperville North.
Smith was responsible for facility improvements at all three schools as well, including new athletic/physical education facilities and two new gymnasiums at Woodstock, and a new turf field, renovated pool and fieldhouse at Naperville North.
However, Smith’s most lasting legacy at the local level was his creation of Hoops for Healing, a basketball tournament that he started in Woodstock and continued in Naperville, in which all funds go to cancer awareness research. Started in response to his own battle and eventual victory over colon cancer, all proceeds have gone to CAMP HOPE for the past 13 years and now total more than $400,000.
In addition to his contributions locally, Smith was president of the Illinois Athletic Directors Association (IADA), and was co-creator of the IADA Mentoring Program and the IADA Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the IADA Hall of Fame in 2015 and was IADA Class AA Athletic Director of the Year in 1993-94. He has taught more than 30 Leadership Training courses at the state level, and was a speaker at nine IADA state conventions.
Smith also served on the IHSA Strategic Planning Committee (2001-02) and was a two-term member of the IHSA Legislative Commission.
At the national level, Smith has been an NIAAA member since 1984 and served on the NIAAA Board of Directors from 2006 to 2008. He served on the NIAAA Credentials Committee from 1995 to 2002, including the final three years as chair, and he was NIAAA delegate to the national conference from 1988 to 1991. Smith was a speaker at four National Athletic Directors Conferences, completed 30 Leadership Training courses and had several articles published in Interscholastic Athletic Administration magazine.
In 2015, Smith co-authored Leadership Training Course 640 (Role of the Urban Athletic Director) and was national chair of the course for several years and was co-chair of LTC 608 – Office Management – until 2017.
Smith, who earned his bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and his master’s from Bradley University, has received numerous awards, including the NIAAA Distinguished Service Award and the NFHS Citation. He was inducted into the Woodstock Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008.
Sheri Stice, CMAA
Stice retired in 2012 after 38 years in public and private education, the last 17 as associate athletic director and coordinator for secondary physical education and Special Olympics for the Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District in Houston, Texas. Since her retirement, Stice has served as an educational consultant and is currently the Certification Program Coordinator for the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA).
In her position with the Cypress Fairbanks School District, Stice was responsible for athletic programs at 10 high schools and 17 middle schools. Among her accomplishments, Stice developed and implemented the district athletic handbook, and procured a grant of $1.3 million from the National Fitness Foundation and a $1 million federal PEP grant for physical education.
Stice also provided development opportunities for coaches in the Cy-Fair School District and led the proposal to upgrade facilities to meet Title IX expectations. Stice was instrumental in the school district adding softball fields and developing facility standards that provided parity for boys and girls athletics.
In 2000, Stice started a district Soccer Start program for at-risk middle school students that ties attendance, behavior and academic achievement with soccer. In its first year, the program had 250 participants; at retirement the numbers had ballooned to more than 1,000 participants.
Stice was also the coordinator of the school district’s Special Olympics program, and she initiated the sportsmanship initiative in her school district entitled “Victory with Honor,” which outlines accountability and procedures that all schools in the district use.
After Stice received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, she became a health and physical education teacher and a head coach of four different sports at Houston (Texas) St. Pius X High School. She joined the Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District staff in 1978, and she had a six-year stint as a middle school teacher and coach, and 11 years as assistant principal of two middle schools.
Beyond her outstanding accomplishments at the local level, Stice has devoted many hours of service to the Texas High School Athletic Directors Association (THSADA) and the NIAAA. She has been the Texas state liaison to the NIAAA for several years, and she was asked by the THSADA to defend athletic graduation requirements in high schools to the State Board of Education.
Nationally, Stice has been one of the major contributors to the NIAAA Certification Committee for many years. She served terms as vice chair and chair of the committee and has been the NIAAA certification program coordinator for the past seven years. In this capacity, electronic testing, core course expansion and increased numbers of professional certification designations have come to fruition.
Stice has served on the NIAAA Leadership Training Institute state, national and international faculty. She has taught in the Czech Republic, Asia and South America, bringing best practices and effective and efficient programming ideas to athletic administrators across the globe. In 2012, she was a contributing author to the NIAAA’s Guide to Interscholastic Athletic Administration. In addition, in 2002, she led a workshop on “The Attrition of Female Coaches” at the National Athletic Directors Conference.
Among her previous awards, Stice received the NIAAA Distinguished Service Award in 2007, the NFHS Citation in 2009 and the NIAAA Award of Merit in 2014. In 2010, she was named to the THSADA Hall of Honor.
Faye Thornton, CMAA
Faye Thornton, CMAA, was a leader in Kentucky high school athletics for 30 years for a teacher, coach, guidance counselor, administrator and mentor.
Thornton, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Kentucky, began her high school athletic administration career in 1987 at Harrison County High School in Cynthiana, Kentucky. In addition to serving as a business education teacher throughout her 13 years at Harrison County, Thornton was cheer coach and pep club sponsor for seven years, assistant athletic director for six years, Student Council sponsor for two years and guidance counselor for three years.
Thornton was also chair of the School Safety Committee and served on the High Schools That Work Committee and the Cocurricular and Title IX Committee at Harrison County.
From January 2001 to June 2009, Thornton served in a variety of positions at four different Kentucky schools. She was guidance counselor at Franklin County High School in Frankfort, Kentucky until July 2003, when she became assistant principal at Bourbon County High School. In addition to a myriad of other responsibilities, Thornton was supervisor of athletics at Bourbon County.
In 2006, Thornton became assistant principal/athletic director at Frankfort High School and served in that position for one year, followed by a two-year stint as a teacher at Sharp Middle School in Butler, Kentucky. She continued to serve for a period of time as a counselor and middle school athletic director after retirement from full-time teaching.
Throughout her years as a teacher, coach and athletic director, Thornton was highly involved in local, state and national organizations. During her days at Harrison County High School, Thornton hosted numerous Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) events. She was the organizer of the Tenth Region Athletic Directors Association and was president from 1999 to 2007.
At the state level, Thornton was highly involved with the KHSAA and the Kentucky High School Athletic Directors Association (KHSADA). She has served on the KHSADA Board of Directors since 1994 and has been Leadership Training Coordinator since 1998. She also has been editor of the association’s magazine and chaired the Publications Committee.
Within the KHSAA, Thornton was a member of the KHSAA Middle School Advisory Committee and was a state sponsor for the NFHS Student Leadership Conference from 2000 to 2002. She also was a member of the Northern Kentucky Middle School Athletics Board of Directors from 2013 to 2017 and the Pendleton County High School Gender Equity Committee from 2007 to 2017.
Nationally, Thornton was the first female to be on the instructional staff of a NIAAA Leadership Training Course and went on to chair the course. She has been national chair of two Leadership Training courses, and she has taught more than 100 courses in 24 states. Thornton was a member of the NIAAA Credentials Committee for six years and was the Kentucky delegate to the NIAAA Delegate Assembly four times.
Among her awards, Thornton received the NIAAA State Award of Merit, the NFHS Citation and the NIAAA Thomas E. Frederick Award of Excellence.