Susan Reid Dullea during a visit to part of her new Health and Physical Education realm #1961
A Whole New Ball Game: Rye Gets a New “A.D.”
BY TOM MCDERMOTT
Not long into a conversation with Susan Reid Dullea, the Rye School District’s new Director of Health, Physical Education, and Athletics, one gets the sense that she’s been training for this particular role for most of her life. As the schools finally reopen, health and instructional challenges abound; students will study in the classrooms newly ventilated to help prevent Covid-19 infection and remotely with a huge dependence on technology (the system reportedly crashed on opening day). State–imposed rules regarding masking and distancing need to be heeded. And, yes, a modified sports schedule will begin September 29.
Enter Reid Dullea, who held the same position in the Carmel School District since 2015, and in Croton-Harmon and Haldane prior to that. She is the first woman to be the Section 1 Football Chair – while we were speaking to her, she received 16 messages from coaches looking for guidance.
Dullea got her own guidance from her parents while growing up in Massena, N.Y, which is as far north as one can go in the state before someone turns you around these days at the Canadian border. In fact, her dad, Greg Reid, worked as an immigration inspector, while her mom, Barbara, stayed at home and sometimes managed a school cafeteria. “We are a middle-class upstate family, said Reid Dullea, “My parents were honest and kind, completely transparent.”
As a three-sport athlete at Massena Central High, Reid Dullea is no stranger to the college recruitment game. She was recruited by Providence College, among others, for Ice Hockey and Softball. “But they didn’t have what I wanted, even though they worked with Brown to craft an academic program for me in Health and Wellness.”
What defines her? “My parents are always in my heart. Even though my father is gone, I wonder if I am making the best decision possible, would he be proud of me?” Also, she had an important, longtime professional mentor, Martha Slack, the local A.D. in Massena, who continued to support her whenever possible throughout her career.
Reid Dullea received her Bachelor of Science in, you guessed it, Physical and Health Education from Ithaca College where she played Softball. She also earned a Master’s in Instructional Technology at SUNY Potsdam.
Her long title notwithstanding, Reid Dullea, seems fated to be known in a sports-crazed town, at a sports-intense high school, as “the A.D”. In that position, she is totally comfortable with the role college recruiting plays in high school sports, and just as comfortable if a child decides not to play any sport at all. “Rye students are academically talented, which attracts interest, so many go on to participate in college athletics. We just had a junior verbally commit to U.N.C. for lacrosse.”
She sees athletics as an extension of the classroom, and will ask these questions of Rye athletes interested in college athletics: What is your vision, your academic career path, what do you want to do? “What I learned in my own process was that I was not a D-1 person. I loved sports but they did not define me. Why put your eggs all in one basket?”
In early September, Governor Cuomo tried to give some guidance regarding high school athletics. As a result, beginning September 29 at Rye High, NYS Department of Health “low risk” Boys’ and Girls’ Soccer, Field Hockey, Girls’ Tennis, and Cross Country will begin their seasons. “High risk” Football, Volleyball, Swimming & Diving, and Cheerleading, as of press time, will be able to hold practices but will not have interscholastic competition.
Reid Dullea said this week, “As a Section, we may move these sports to a condensed season in winter or spring.” In short, the fall Rye-Harrison Football looks like a shutout.
The good news for the A.D. is that the new turf field is scheduled to be finished for practices and games by October 1, most likely mid-to-late September.
Reid Dullea is aware that some people think it’s odd that high school sports can commence but not youth programs. “Team health is the driving force for our program, which is approved by and under the direction of the Department of Health.”
Some also wonder about students having to strictly adhere to mask and distancing rules while in school, and 12-foot distancing for physical education classes, but team sports’ practices and competition can proceed. According to Reid Dullea, there were 1,000 questions left unanswered by the State, and she and others are hoping for clarification. She may be pondering those questions on the long rides home up I-684 to Danbury. For now, she believes remaining in a state of resiliency is the best course.
Reid Dullea’s introduction to Rye has been a smooth one. She has been impressed by the positive and supportive Rye community, as well as with the School District’s team, especially new Rye High Principal Dr. Derek Shuelein.
“We’re prepared. We’ve done everything in our power to make sure we have the best plan out there.”