After several years of leading the track and field program at Hobbton High School, Jeff Klaves is now on a new journey as athletic director.
“There’s a lot of rich history at Hobbton High School and I would like to be a stepping stone to continue that historical path,” he said about the exciting opportunity.
Coach Russell Jones, former director, is scheduled to retire at the end of the school year. In the meantime, Jones will assist Klaves in the transition. He showed gratitude to Principal Jennifer Daugherty for having faith in his leadership.
“I know that together, we’re going to achieve some great things,” he said.
For Klaves, it’s a lot to take on. But he’s ready for the challenge.
“It’s been refreshing to see the backside of things because I’ve coached for so many years in Sampson County, even at the collegiate level,” he said. “Now being an administrator, I can relate and see where all coaches are coming from.”
When a flu bug was going around, Klaves had the step up and be a cheerleading coach for a day.
“You have to be ready for anything as an AD,” he said. “That what I learned so far. It’s cool seeing all the athletes and parents from different perspectives.”
He’s been calling Sampson County home for many years. Klaves was born and raised in Wisconsin. After graduating from high school, he attended Campbell University on a track and field scholarship. He earned a degree in applied mathematics with a emphasis in statistics and minored in Spanish.
“I was set to be statistician in biostatistics, but I had an internship and it wasn’t my cup of tea,” he said.
He looked for other avenues in math. After tutoring at Hobbton High School, he applied and became a math teacher. During his first year at Hobbton, he became the track coach and instilled a new mentality into the program. At the end of the year, he accepted a graduate assistant’s internship at East Tennessee State University (ETSU), where he became an assistant coach and earned a master’s in sports management with an emphasis in sports administration.
Klaves learned a lot through is coaching and educational experiences at ETSU, but he made a decision to return to Hobbton, which was better suited for him. He’s been there since 2012. After his return, the track program expanded with cross country and indoor competition. Hobbton received many championships and accolades under the leadership of Klaves.
“I’m not taking anything way from the championships that the kids helped produce,” he said. “The number one thing that I’m most proud of is the number of kids who left the program on a college cross country or track and field scholarship.”
He added that winning comes from dedication and time. But he believes there’s a lot more that goes into having successful seasons. Some of it includes learning how to work with fellow student-athletes and going through adversity. A couple of the hurdles included Hurricane Matthew and inclement weather incidents.
“Schedules aren’t what they were and the next thing you know, they have to worry about exams, practice and trying to get better,” Klaves said. “It’s more than championships. These kids are working together, trying to achieve goals. That’s what I take away the most.”
Another goal at Hobbton is to build a track, so students don’t have to travel to other locations to practice. Supporters raised $150,000 from county commissioners. Additional funds are required for the project and may be obtained through grants or fundraising. The expected cost is $350,000.
“When those funds are raised then we’ll go ahead and start the project,” he said. “We are excited that the community and administration is really pushing for this track to be at Hobbton.”
According to Klaves, Hobbton is 1 of 7 schools in North Carolina without a track facility for its program. A completion date has not been set.
“I’m excited to see where things go,” he said.