Duarte named AD of the Year

After just three years at the post, Bremerton’s George Duarte is the Olympic League Athletic Director of the Year, the Bremerton School District (BSD) announced Tuesday.

Duarte, who previously was the athletic director at Royal Palm Middle School in Arizona, a position he held for four years, arrived to BSD prior to the 2005-06 school year. He’s since worked at Bremerton High School, striving to grow and strengthen the overall state of Bremerton athletics while encouraging students to participate in high school sports.

“It’s rewarding and satisfying for my colleagues to recognize me,” Duarte said. “There’s just an enormous amount of work that athletic directors do behind the scenes.”

That work, Duarte said, begins and ends with the students, the goal being to enhance the overall athletic experience.

“I’m always looking at what we can do to get better in terms of becoming a stronger athletic department,” he said. “How can we as an athletic department look at our current situation to become a little better?”

Duarte recently negotiated with the Kitsap Soccer Club, the county’s first fully professional soccer franchise, to have its home games played at Memorial Stadium. The agreement, which club owner Robin Waite called “11th hour,” resulted, among others, in the franchise installing a new scoreboard — available for BHS sports — in exchange for field usage. He also has worked closely with the Semancik Foundation, a local nonprofit which provides scholarships to students, and is a key player in determining postseason allocations for the Olympic League between the combined Olympic and Western Cascade League (OWL). BHS also hosted the Class 3A regional wrestling tournament in February.

“Those kinds of things are going to bring our venue a little more class,” Duarte said. “We’re always looking to get better.”

Duarte’s award comes less than a month after BHS Principal Aaron Leavell was named Washington State Principal of the Year by the Association of Washington School Principals.

“There’s a lot of hard-working people in our district,” Duarte said. “When you come to the Bremerton School District, you truly get a sense that the people are working for the kids.”

And it’s with that motto, to work for the kids, that Duarte will tackle whatever challenges may wait ahead.

“Getting kids to realize their potential,” he said. “Get them to understand the importance of being involved, to encourage kids to come out.

“We have kids walking the halls who I know have potential, but they aren’t participating. That’s one of the biggest challenges I face.”

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