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Sag Harbor District Confident New Athletic Director Brings Right Mix Of Experience And Leadership

Originally Posted: August 05, 2009

Brett Mauser

Montgomery "Monty" Granger was hired as the director of athletics and facilities in the Sag Harbor School District Photos by Brett Mauser

Sag Harbor - In Montgomery "Monty" Granger, who was hired last month as the director of athletics and supervisor of buildings and grounds, the district brought in someone with extensive experience as a director of athletics and facilities, a coach, a teacher and a military man. Most importantly, school officials are confident he will provide stability and leadership to their program in both the short and long term.

Granger began his tenure in Sag Harbor on Monday and concentrated on familiarizing himself with the people and places in the community. He toured the grounds with Superintendent Dr. John Gratto, looking at ongoing construction and improvement projects as well as began developing the philosophical approach to his job, a full-time position designated as three-fifths athletics and two-fifths facilities.

Montgomery "Monty" Granger, the new director of athletics and facilities in Sag Harbor

"It's important to start with a philosophy and understand what we need to do for the kids and focus on teaching and learning. As far as facilities go, I want to bring some passion to it. There are guys and gals doing a good job and you have to pat them on the back for doing a good job. If things need to get picked up, you pick them up. We'll take it one day at a time. There's this big sense of urgency when you start a new job, but we're going to go one step at a time. A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step; I try to remind myself of that."

Superintendent Gratto said the district received approximately 15 applications and settled on two finalists. Granger interviewed with the superintendent at length on one occasion prior to his appointment on July 13. He will be paid $125,000 for the year. He replaces Bill Madsen, who left his post in Sag Harbor after one year to take the athletic director position at Eastport-South Manor.

"He has spot-on experience for this job," Gratto said. "He has great experience as an athletic director, as a supervisor of buildings and grounds, and I think he has a good personality and strong work ethic to do the job at a highly successful rate."

Granger, 47, comes to the South Fork from a district administrator for operations position in the Comsewogue School District in Port Jefferson Station. Prior to that, he was the athletic director in the district from July 2000 to December 2004 and before that at Middle Country School District in 1998 and 1999. Granger grew up in a suburb of Riverside, CA, and played football, tennis and volleyball at Rubidoux High School. He attended and graduated from the University of Alabama and then completed his Master's at Columbia University's Teachers College. He taught health and physical education mostly in New York City's public school system.

A Natural Fit
The hybrid job description was first introduced prior to hiring Madsen and was met by its fair share of opposition. Granger, however, thinks it's a natural fit. His administrator job at Comsewogue dealt with buildings, grounds maintenance, security, athletic and community field use and health services. "It's like an AD's dream come true to have control over these things," he said.

A significant reason for Madsen's quick departure was the commute; he traveled from Rocky Point to Sag Harbor each day. Granger will travel an even farther distance from his home in Port Jefferson Station, a drive he estimates to be roughly 75 minutes. A father of five children, the youngest of which is 10 months old, Granger insisted he and his family are on board with the move.

"It's a beautiful drive," Granger said. "It reminds me of a couple places in California - Big Bear, which was about 45 minutes from my house, and Big Sur. There are friendly, natural people, it's a beautiful setting - I'm into it big-time. My wife just got me a book on tape."

Dr. Gratto said that Granger is a person who "makes a commitment and follows through," and said that Granger indicated his family might make an effort to move to the South Fork after his first year in Sag Harbor is complete.

Granger's military career is extensive. He originally became a combat medic with the California Army National Guard before moving west and joining the New York Army National Guard. After Officer Candidate School, he became a platoon leader with a Freeport-based infantry battalion, was transferred to a hospital unit in Rocky Point, and upon being promoted to the rank of captain, was transferred to the 800th Military Police Brigade. When the tragedies of September 11 occurred, Granger was sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for what ended up being a five month stint in 2002. As a medical officer, his job "was to look after bad guys." The experience led him to write a book "Saving Grace At Guantanamo Bay: The Real Story," which is currently in the editing stage.

He was home for six months but was told to keep his bags packed. In 2003, he trained for a mission in Iraq that never came. The next year, Granger was involuntarily transferred to a sister unit and went on a 14-month tour from October 2004 to December 2005. One of his first missions was at Abu Ghraib prison just following the prisoner abuse scandal. "It wasn't that nice a place to be," he said. "I couldn't imagine it any worse. They were fixing it up when I was there. They were working hard to change things there."

Monty Granger spent his first day meeting with coaches and administrators in preparation for the 2009-2010 school year.

Granger's Middle East stint took him to the U.S. Boca detention center in Al-Basra and then to Camp Ashraf where he ran a protection mission for the People's Mujahedin Of Iran - or Iranian expatriates whose efforts have included fighting with Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq War - at Camp Ashraf. He also spent several months in charge of all incarceration with the 18th Military Police Brigade. His final stop was Kuwait where he prepared units for their returns home and tracked all equipment out of Iraq, spending time in Kuwait City at Camp Arifjan.

Experience Substantial Asset
Superintendent Gratto called Granger's military experience a substantial asset. "He's a guy who's used to having responsibility and finding ways to get the job done. That's a real plus. As opposed to finding excuses, he finds ways to get things done. I see him providing leadership to our wellness, health and safety plans. He brings a lot to the position."

"It's important to listen, ask good questions, and listen to the answers, but it's also important to hit the ground running," Granger said. "Anybody who walked through the Sag Harbor School District would be able to see some awesome things. If you looked a little harder, you might be able to see some things that need to be improved."

Football practice begins on Aug. 20, with the rest of the sports' regimens starting up on Aug. 31. The first varsity game will be played by the girls volleyball team as it travels to Mattituck on Sept. 9.

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