New year brings excitement for MUSD AD
Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
Madera Unified School District’s Director of Athletics Marty Bitter, right, stands with, from left, Matilda Torres High School Athletic Director Jordan Murphy, Madera F.A.N. President Ryan Desmond and Madera South High School Athletic Director Andrea Devine after receiving a check from the Madera F.A.N. organization. Bitter stood in for Madera High School Athletic Director John Fernandez.
With the new school year quickly approaching, Madera Unified School District Director of Athletics, Marty Bitter, said that this is the year he is most excited about.
“Right now, I am more excited,” Bitter said. “With our summer enrichment program, it’s a game-changer.”
Many Madera, Madera South and Matilda Torres held summer programs to get the youths involved in their school’s sports and all received favorable response and turnout.
Bitter said he was also impressed with how much Madera-area athletes wanted something to go to and pointed to last week’s girls basketball camp at Matilda Torres High School, which was run by the Fresno State Women’s Basketball team and head coach Jaime White.
“Have you seen that many girls play basketball at a camp,” Bitter said. “That’s girls in Madera playing basketball. That’s huge. To be able to offer that and get the head coaches in at a younger age, that’s a game changer.”
The Madera Tribune caught up with the athletic director to talk about the new league realignment, what’s next for MUSD athletic facilities and the use of the GoFan ticketing app.
Madera Tribune: What is it about realignment with the Central Section?
Marty Bitter: We are on a cycle and it was our turn in the section for realignment. The model for realignment has changed a little. The division the schools play in has gone to competitive equity. That has a bearing on league realignment. We have a conference model becomes more prevalent. The CMAC and the NYL became a conference with two divisions. We kept the CMAC and NYL as division and all of them are in one conference. Garza (High School in Central Unified School District) is taking the place of Madera South, and the rest remained the same. The NYL has taken on water. They have picked up Madera South, Matilda Torres, after their two years of freelancing, and Sanger West. The NYL has eight schools — Hoover, Sunnyside, Fresno, Roosevelt, McLane, Madera South, Matilda Torres and Sanger West. Reedley went to another league with a conference model. That’s the old school CSL. The NSL kind of materialized and changed a little. The beauty of a conference model, is in certain sports, was to go competitive equity sport-by-sport. That’s the beauty of a conference model. That’s what we wanted, but some of the Fresno Unified schools didn’t want it. Now, our league policy is, if two schools decide, mutually, to switch and it’s agreed upon by both leagues, that can be done, but on a two-year cycle. The league-schedule portions of the sports are already done.
MT: Were the new leagues are done with the postseason divisions considered?
MB: The leagues are more aligned. There’s like competition for both sides. With the leagues like that, in some sports, it’s a huge benefit, but some, it hurts us. It’s a good concept and that’s a positive for all of us.
MT: What do say to schools that don’t want to go up in divisions?
MB: This is what I preach to the schools: With schools going into a lower division, they are going into a division they can win. I say to not look at the outcome, but look at the process. They need to be challenged. Their skill level will go up. You have to play high competition to get better.
MT: You play against better school, you get better.
MB: Cross country is an example of that. We give our kids the best opportunities to compete against the best in California. Another example is Madera South baseball. They played the Bullard’s and Memorials and then go to the division where they fit, but those teams won’t affect them. There’s a benefit to that. You’re not always going to win, but you’re getting better. It’s a Catch-22. For us, the goal is always to move up. The goal is to move our programs forward. We are looking at where our programs need to get better.
MT: Now that the Madera High School softball stadium is getting done, what is next?
MB:We’re getting ready to sit down and meet with the board for a facilities workshop. There are a lot of projects to get done. We want to prioritize our projects. I think we’ve done an excellent job at improving our facilities, aesthetically and playability. The Fresno State coach said they couldn’t believe Matilda Torres’ gym was a high school gym. That was the first thing she said. That led her to want to do so much more out here with our kids. She wants to be out here. The facilities sell. Now, we’re in a position to start stuff to start having club stuff and tournaments.
A couple of projects in the hopper after we finish the softball complex is work on the stadium. Another phase is to build another field house for the females. We want to redo the stadium with track and turf and also the bleachers. The area in between the grass and Olive Avenue will be a multi-level all-purpose facility with a gym and wrestling room. A bridge or an underpass on Olive for the kids to cross the street. The hut at Thomas Jefferson and get a storage or restroom facility to beautify that area. It’s the same thing at Desmond. They need storage and a restroom for their football field. We have lots of projects we are working towards. They all have to go to board. I appreciate, as the director of athletes, the board’s vision of how important athletics and athletic facilities are. Our district leadership also supports athletics. They have been coaches or athletic directors. They’ve all been involved in athletics. They see the value of athletics. I don’t have to deal with people that don’t have athletic-minded people at the top of district leadership.
MT: Is there going to be a football stadium at Matilda Torres?
MB: Yes, and it will be nice. Hopefully, that will get approved shortly. That needs to get done before we refurbish other facilities. (Note: In another conversation with Bitter, he said that the Torres stadium needs to get done before any renovations are done to Memorial Stadium and surrounding areas.)
MT: Does it give you confidence moving forward to tell the coaches we might inconvenience you for a time, but you’re going to get something really nice?
MB: No question. The coaches are more than willing to be inconvenienced to get an updated facility. Driving down Olive Avenue, the baseball stadium sits out. They will see the new softball facility, and, in the future, the renovated Memorial Stadium. People are seeing first-class facilities. Our schools are enticing people to move into our community.
MT: Will the schools continue on cash-less for ticket sales?
MB: We are a completely ticket-less district for entry, as well as the Central Section. The state has adopted GoFan. If you go to any playoff game, it’s GoFan. It won’t be long before all districts do cashless entry. We will be using the app. It is a tremendous benefit for us in manpower of what we have to staff at our games. We have control over how many people attending our games. It also helps in preparation for the snack bar. It’s a huge benefit for us.
MT: If you’re going to a Madera Unified game, you have to go to GoFan?
MB: Correct. There will be no money taken at the gate.