Brian Winter was set to become an assistant principal at Maricopa High School but instead will now be the district's athletic director, a position he held five years ago. Photo by Michelle Chance

A man familiar with running the athletic program at Maricopa Unified School District will soon return to the position.

Brian Winter will begin as district athletic director July 1, after the MUSD Governing Board approved the move Wednesday night. In 2011-12, he was athletic director and assistant principal at Maricopa High School before leaving the district that year.

Winter returned in 2016 as the current dean of students at Maricopa High School and was poised to become assistant principal for the upcoming school year.

Winter said his focus has been preparing for his new role as assistant principal of academics — until last week when the former district athletic director resigned.

 “It was bit of a whirlwind when Mark Cisterna put in his resignation. I don’t think any of us saw that coming,” Winter said. “It took a little time to process it all, but it will be good.”

MUSD Academic Coach Heidi Vratil will move into Winter’s assistant principal slot at MHS.

The responsibilities of his position as AD have changed since Winter held the spot five years ago. Back then, he played dual roles as athletic director and assistant principal.

This time around, Winter said he will retain the administrator’s duty of teacher evaluations, but will have less to do with discipline.

Winter said as district AD he will work to build an alignment between middle school and high school sports programs. He said his goal will also be to hire and retain qualified head coaches.

“What I found in Maricopa is a lot of times it ends up being kind of a stepping stone to bigger jobs up into the valley and I’ve always felt that Maricopa is a diamond in the rough,” Winter said.

Growing strong athletic and academic programs at MHS, Winter said, will hopefully grow enrollment from students who live in Maricopa but attend school elsewhere.

“People are going to really consider whether or not it makes sense for them to send their students on the bus up 347 when we’ve got so many good things happening right here in town,” Winter said.

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