As St. Bartholomew School honors its outgoing athletics director, Kyle Fath, for his 15 years of volunteer service, it might want to send Fath’s dad a thank-you note.
It was Fred Fath, who still coaches at 84, who instilled in his son the importance of giving back to his community and to children in general.
The 56-year-old Kyle Fath recalled his dad’s most important words of wisdom when he began coaching the St. Christopher (Speedway) sixth-grade boys basketball team as his father’s assistant in 1975.
“He always said, ‘Respect the kids,’” Kyle Fath said. “He said, ‘Everything you do, do for the benefit of the kids.’”
Story continues below gallery
Over the following 40 years, Fath took that advice to heart.
“My dad is the most Christian, generous and giving man I know,” Kyle Fath said. “He’s the one I look up to most and try to pattern my life after.”
After coaching youth programs for 21 years in Speedway, Fath moved to Columbus in 1996 to work for Cummins as an engineer. He became a volunteer coach at St. Bartholomew the 1997-98 season with the fifth-grade girls basketball team. Although he has three daughters (22-year-old Brooke Dale, 19-year-old Kassidy Fath and 13-year-old Jenna Fath), he had not coached girls before.
St. Bartholomew asked Fath to be a member of its athletic board in 1998 then asked him to take over as athletics director in 2000 when the position opened.
“I already was taking an active role,” said Fath, who is helping Tim Coriden have a smooth transition as he becomes his replacement. “It was something I had a talent for, and it was a way of giving back.”
It was a way of giving back for 15 years.
“I did the athletics director job,” he said. “I liked the coaching more.”
Fath decided to step away because his youngest daughter, Jenna, is an eighth-grader at St. Bartholomew who is getting ready to begin her high school career at Columbus North. The elder Fath said he wants the time to watch his daughter play volleyball and softball with the Bull Dogs.
“I am not going to coach for three or four years,” he said. “I am going to watch my daughter. But I will go back to it.”
He said Coriden is a great fit for the position and that it probably was time for some “new ideas.”
Coriden said Fath did a remarkable job at St. Bartholomew.
“I can tell you that I have spent the last year working with Kyle, and I didn’t have any idea about 1 percent of what he does for the school and the athletic program,” Coriden said. “I’m still learning stuff. He has been his own institution in many ways. He did literally everything, and I mean everything.”
Coriden said a new athletic board is in place and he will be seeking more help from them than Fath did.
“The hardest part is picking the coaches,” Fath said. “It’s all voluntary, no pay. These people give up their time to coach, and coaches make the program.”
Although Fath said he tries to never turn down a volunteer, not everyone is perfect to be a head coach. “You find ways to get people involved,” he said.
The athletics director also schedules games and practices, lines up officials and handles finances.
“After picking the coaches, the rest of it is logistics,” Fath said. “I’ve had lots of help over time and less help lately. I set high expectations.”
St. Bartholomew runs fifth- through eighth-grade volleyball, fourth- through eighth-grade girls and boys basketball, and cheerleading. St. Bartholomew students who play other sports can participate at Northside in the programs not offered by the Catholic school. Fath said St. Bartholomew and Northside have had a wonderful relationship in terms of cooperation.
Fath said he looks forward to coaching again in the future.
“I like being around kids,” he said. “They are willing to learn, and it is fun to see them at the beginning of the year to the end of the year. They are willing to listen.
“Young people keep me young.”
Although he is strict, he said, he is not mean.
“I am loud,” he said with a smile. “But in all my years, I’ve never had a technical. I consider myself a kind of teacher.”
Over his time as an athletic director Fath has had his wife, Tammy, as a key part of his team.
“I say that she was my assistant AD on the first shift, 8 to 5,” he said. “Anything I needed done, she does. She’s been great and very supportive. There is a lot of away time with the job, and I was at the gym five times a week. There is a lot to do.”
There is a lot to do and a basic concept to follow.
“We always prayed before games and after practices,” he said. “We are there to build character. There is more to it than just sports. It’s about how to treat people, how to get along, how to pick each other up.”