John Rade, 55, Wood River High School’s athletic and activities director for 10-and-a-half years dating back to January 2006, submitted his letter of resignation to Hailey high school principal John Pearce on Thursday, July 14.
Rade’s resignation was effective July 18. A search has started for his successor, with the onset of Wood River’s 2016-17 athletic seasons less than a month away.
“It’s time to make a change,” said Boise State University graduate and Bronco Hall of Fame football player Rade. “I plan on relocating back to the Treasure Valley and to look for business/employment opportunities.”
His wife Lori has worked for many years in the office at Hailey’s Wood River Middle School.
She will leave her position, too, as the Rades plan to live in and eventually retire in Boise, he said. Their son Jared, a Wood River High graduate, lives in Boise. Daughter Jenna resides in Salem, Ore.
Rade said, “I want to thank the whole community, and the Wood River teachers and administration, for its support. Great coaches are great teachers, and Wood River has a bunch of great coaches.”
A native of Ceres, Ca. in the San Joaquin Valley south of Modesto, Rade came to the Wood River Valley with newly-named head football coach Mike Glenn in 2005.
Rade served as assistant football coach and defensive coordinator with Glenn before taking the job of athletic and activities director in 2007—first working for a year-and-a-half as assistant AD under athletic director Ron Martinez.
He is believed to be one of the longest-serving Wood River High athletic and activity directors, possibly the longest with nine full years on the director job. In 2009, Rade was named 4th District 5A/4A “Athletic Director of the Year.”
Rade was an All-American football player at Boise State, playing as defensive end. He went on to play linebacker for nine seasons with the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League, and also served as Falcons defensive captain.
He was twice named to the first-team All-Big Sky Conference team (1981-82). Following his senior season at BSU in 1982, Rade was chosen the league’s Defensive Player of the Year and earned first-team All-American honors from the Associated Press and Kodak.
Rade was named to the Boise State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990.
Drafted in the 1983 NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons, Rade was a starter for the Falcons throughout his 122-game pro career. In 1987 and 1988 he led the NFL team in total tackles with 145 and 137.
After retiring from the Falcons in 1992, Rade and former BSU teammate Paul Unger started a telecommunications business. Rade returned to BSU and graduated with a finance degree. He later earned a teaching certificate before taking the Wood River AD job.
When Jared started playing youth football, Rade was his coach, and in that capacity met Glenn. Rade joined Glenn on the Eagle High School football coaching staff as defensive coordinator in 2002. He came with Glenn to Hailey in 2005.
He said he continues to associate with Treasure Valley people he befriended during his college years and is looking forward to resuming those relationships.
Wood River High was served well by Rade’s athletic background and his willingness to adapt to a new role.
“I’ve loved being around the kids,” he said. “I tried to create unity with the whole coaching staff. I didn’t want our coaches to compete for athletes. I wanted to keep it for the kids so they could have fun with it.”
“And I was worried about retention rates of athletes and coaches.
“It’s very difficult these days, with everyone trying to be one-sport athletes. I tried to push for multi-sport athletes, because I thought playing different sports created less of a chance of getting injured and more of a chance in staying interested in a sport.”
Rade applied lessons he learned as a pro football leader to his job in Hailey.
He said, “I tried to do all the behind-the-scenes work necessary to keep things running smoothly, just as I tried to do making sure our defense in Atlanta ran smoothly.”
He was well-organized in setting and adjusting schedules, making sure the students and coaches showed up on time and when expected, and staying in contact with his athletic director colleagues.
“I just wanted the kids to be able to show up and play,” he said. “And we had people like (equipment manager) Dale Martin who helped greatly in doing just that.”
Rade realized there were many misconceptions about Wood River among athletes, coaches and parents from rival schools on athletic schedules.
He said, “Wood River has good kids and good parents. I emphasized good sportsmanship to help correct some of those misconceptions.”
“I understand the emotional aspects of having a kid involved in athletics. I understand things from a parent’s viewpoint and from an official’s viewpoint. Hopefully I was smart enough to understand situations before they got out of hand,” he said.
One of Rade’s major accomplishments was putting all of Wood River’s activities, from football to music and drama, on more of a level playing field.
The annual Bob Shay Most Inspirational banquet organized by Rade at the end of the school year reflected that attitude—giving recognition to a much wider range of students.
Rade brought a wider range of high school administrators on board during the busy school activity year to achieve his goal of better appreciating all the school’s activities.
He said, “I would create a spreadsheet at the beginning of the year that would divide all of our activities up as equally as I could among all of our administrators. It gave us a better appreciation of the hard work all the teachers and students did in those activities.”