After 16 years at Tracy High, Matt Shrout figures the biggest change he wants to see is for him to be more involved in all the sports at his school.
As of July 1, Shrout will become the new athletic director at Tracy High, taking over for Gary Henderson, who will become an assistant principal at the school. Shrout said that as he and his colleagues grow into new roles at the high school, they can find ways for an already successful athletic program to get even better.
“I want to continue having Tracy High being the school that it is and the sports program that it is,” Shrout said. “I think we’re very successful, not only in town, but around the area. It’s a well-respected program. I want to keep that, and maybe bring some new ideas that I have in. I just want to continue to grow.”
Shrout has been the head football coach at Tracy High for the past 10 years and will become athletic director in addition to running the football program and teaching physical education. He said the big challenge is to keep athletics programs popular enough to pay for themselves.
Funding for high school sports comes from ticket sales at athletic events, with booster clubs also raising money to pay for uniforms and equipment. Tracy Unified School District pays coach stipends, which are effectively part-time jobs, and Shrout expects that even those could be cut during tough economic times. The district also pays some transportation costs, but not nearly enough to cover a team’s entire transportation bill, especially if a team makes it to the playoffs and has to go out of town for postseason tournaments.
“I just want to continue to grow with ideas that I’ve brought in with the football program and bring that into the whole sports program,” Shrout said. “People want to support us, so it’s not only going to improve us monetarily as a sports program, but also to reach out to the community and help in ways that maybe we haven’t.”
Shrout also looks forward to being the face of Bulldog athletics. While football is big at Tracy High, he knows that each of the other sports is just as important to the student-athletes and parents. He’s already a familiar face at volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball games.
“I’ve always been that guy. I enjoy sports. I enjoy watching young people be successful at them,” he said, adding that it’s how he gets to know more of the students on campus as well as their parents. “It’s a chance to talk to them on a different level and make sure that we’re doing things the way that the community is going to support us in.”
“I’m just passionate about high school sports. I have been my whole career, since I started teaching in 1998,” he added. “I’m looking forward to meeting those coaches that I don’t get to see all of the time.”
Shrout also sees Bulldog sports as integral to campus culture, and so he looks forward to teaming up with Cameron Chitwood, Tracy High’s new activities director, to keep students involved in a range of extracurricular activities.
“We’re going to try to get some things going so the whole school can be more supportive of each other,” Shrout said. “In this day and age, I think that’s important.”
This is the time of year when many fall sports, including football, usually start summer practices and team meetings. Those gatherings are prohibited now because of COVID-19 quarantines, but by this time next month, the California Interscholastic Federation hopes to have a plan for the fall 2020 season.
Shrout said he’s seen other school districts begin to shape their sports programs for the fall season, and he expects Tracy High to do the same once the state and county give the go-ahead for athletics to start up again.
“I’ve been in touch with our district and we’re going to take a look at things, and maybe in the near future we’ll have some guidelines and things set forth and we can all get going too,” he said. “It will be just conditioning for a while. We’ve been sending stuff out to our football players, and I know other coaches are sending stuff out to their players, how to stay in shape. We’ll get after it.”