GRANGER TWP. — A new era in HighlandHigh School athletics will start in the fall.
The bright smiling face that has been a mainstay in the Northeast corner of the school since it opened in 2004 — and one that has been part of the athletic department since 1989 — won’t be around.
The only athletic secretary the school has ever known will walk out the doors Thursday and leave behind a legacy.
Terry Pollock, 59, is retiring.
Pollock has not only been the glue for five athletic directors — Mike Witherup, Steve Moore, husband Fred Pollock, Bo Kuntz and Curt Johansen — she’s been the go-to person for media, students and the Highland community.
A job that started as something to do while her kids were in school turned into a passion, as Terry Pollock quickly became one of the most recognizable faces in Highland athletics.
“I didn’t know anything about athletics when I took this job. I learned over the years,” she said. “But I fell in love with the kids. I’ve started taking stuff home since January because I knew it would be hard.
“It’s going to be OK because I feel I’ve done a really good job here. I’ve made some mistakes, but I’ve touched a lot of kids’ lives. They’ve touched my life. I’m leaving with really good memories.”
She and her husband will be moving to Vancouver, Wash., in the fall to be close to their grandchildren, though they’ll still keep their house in Rittman.
Terry Pollock plans on starting a children’s line of clothing and will also dabble in baking cakes when she moves. She’s never been much of a homebody, so keeping busy is important.
What Pollock leaves behind is more than just the X’s and O’s of making sure an athletic department runs smoothly.
“She’s a warm, welcoming person when people come in,” outgoing AD Johansen said. “She has a way of putting people at ease. Her understanding of all the traditions and financial things we needed to do is incredible. She knew everything to transition. If kids had a concern, they had a place to go. She got kids involved in things they didn’t think they could do.”
Sophomore Hannah Saunders is a perfect example. Injuries kept the former volleyball player from continuing her athletic career, but after encouragement from Pollock, she finished this season as the Highland baseball statistician and sang the national anthem for the team’s senior night.
“I’ve known Terry since I was 4 years old,” Saunders said. “Her and (Fred) have always been around and been a help with anything.
“It’ll be hard to move on without her. She has been like a mother away from home. There’s always high school drama, but she’s always there to put a smile on your face and help you out whenever you need it.”
Pollock has also been there to make sure everything that goes into the day-to-day of high school athletics runs smoothly. If that means staying extra because she had to help a student out with every-day problems, so be it.
Pollock’s philosophy was and always has been that kids come first. The business side will always be there and can wait.
“She knows everything about the place,” said Kuntz, who is now the AD at North Royalton. “I don’t know that you can replace her.”
Hornets football coach Tom Lombardo remembers the first time he met Pollock as the new guy in town. Taking over for the very popular Tim Snook, Lombardo saw an instant friend who welcomed him with open arms.
“In my seven years, I would take away her always positive personality,” Lombardo said. “I’ve never heard her say a negative thing. She’s always willing to help and she does it in a way that makes it enjoyable to be around her.
“She’s been here for so long. Obviously, part of education is making adjustments, but we’ll always miss her. She makes us her family. It’s more that than a working relationship.”
That relationship with Highland will become long distance in November when Terry and Fred Pollock hope to be in Washington for good. In the meantime, they’ll be around. If it’s not at a game, it’ll be to give a guiding hand as the school transitions away from something it has known for a quarter of a century.
“I’ll miss the routine that isn’t a routine,” Terry Pollock said. “It’s the same things, but it’s never the same thing. It’s always something different.”
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.