Fueling the athletic experience with new athletic director Ira Childress


Kathleen Lewis, Copy Editor

New Athletic Director Ira Childress knows what it’s like to be a student-athlete in high school. He’s experienced the pressure of searching for and being found by colleges, the struggle of balancing school and sports, the sensation of being watched and cheered on by fellow classmates and parents, and the thrill of representing one’s school in competition.

Childress played four sports in high school and had a very well-rounded high school experience. “I was also a member of the marching band and our quiz bowl team,” he recalled. It is both his love of sports and his high school memories that make him so well-suited for his career.

As Athletic Director, it’s Childress’s responsibility to ensure that all athletic programs at the Prep are running smoothly. This involves attending sporting events, communicating with coaches and parents, and planning for the long-term goals of the athletic department. 

“An athletic director is not a job, it’s more of a lifestyle,” said Childress. “I get here at 6:30 in the morning, and on most nights I don’t leave until after nine. It’s a long day. If you want to be really good at this job, there are no shortcuts.”

Moving to Miami this year from Okemos High School in Michigan, Childress admits that coming the Prep is a big change. However, he feels that the Prep is a special place with the potential to produce star student-athletes across all programs.

“There are a lot of hardworking people here and you know it’s a place you can really make a difference,” he says. “I think that separates Gulliver from a lot of different places because you can see that the pride in our student-athletes is very strong.”

One of Childress’s primary objectives is to spread this enthusiasm and to ensure that it is appreciated, celebrated, and shared by the whole Gulliver community. “One of my main goals is to increase school spirit,” he said. “I love that all of our student-athletes compete really hard and take their sports very seriously, and they deserve to be cheered on.”

Childress hopes to maximize the publicity of school athletics with exciting new events for all the sports programs. “I want to have unbelievable in-game experiences,” he said. “There will be a lot of different events that we haven’t done in the past.”

Not only does Childress aim to crank up the enthusiasm surrounding athletics, but he also plans to abide by the “five pillars” he has created, which function as the cornerstone of the athletic department. These pillars include, respectively: safety, integrity and character, academics, experience, and finally, scholarships and championships.

There is a reason for the specific order of the five pillars, as Childress uses them to point to where his priorities lay in his career.

“We put students first,” he said. “We want to make sure [that the athletes] are doing well in the classroom, and our goal is to get a 3.5 overall GPA for our teams.”

But as important as it is to put the “student” in “student-athletes,” Childress wouldn’t mind bringing home a trophy or two.

Even a brief conversation with Childress makes evident that winning championships isn’t the only thing on his mind. To him, the positive experience that both the athletes and the community get from athletics is key.

“The most rewarding part of being an athletic director is working with young people and seeing them be successful,” he says.

Childress brings this message to the Prep as he knows the rigors of being a high school student-athlete, and when he sees that his athletes are having a great experience, he knows he’s done his job right.