Front Page - Search 

National attention
D.C. gains wider role in high school athletics
(Published May 1, 2006)

Staff Writer

When Patricia Briscoe joins the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association Board of Directors in December, she will gain a place in the history of the nation’s capital.

The District will be directly represented on the national high school athletics board for the first time, and Briscoe, assistant director of athletics for D.C. Public Schools, will be the first black woman to represent the nation’s capital in the association’s history.

In the past, the District was always represented on the NIAAA board by someone from another state.

"This will be a tremendous opportunity for D.C’s athletic association to make its national presence," Briscoe said.

She will be the official representative of seven jurisdictions on the East Coast – the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Delaware and Pennsylvania.

Having served on an NIAAA committee -- and with almost 17 years of experience in athletics administration and 14 years of coaching experience in track, basketball, cross country, cheerleading and softball -- Briscoe clearly stood out as the most eligible candidate when athletic directors nominated her to be the District’s and region’s representative.

Briscoe said that one of her goals upon joining the national board will be to focus more attention on educating teachers to become athletics administrators. She said she feels that it is crucial to youth sports programs to boost the number of athletics administrators in the District.

"I would like to provide more opportunities for D.C’s teachers to receive training and certifications in athletics administration," Briscoe said. "There are more athletics administrators than teachers in Maryland and Virginia, whereas in the District, it is exactly opposite."

Prior to stepping into her current administrative position in 1989, Briscoe taught mathematics at Anacostia Senior High School, where she started in 1975. As a graduate of Anacostia Senior High, she was a consistent leader in academics, cheerleading and school clubs. When Briscoe was offered a teaching post at her alma mater, she said she accepted it without any second thoughts.

Briscoe began to coach cheerleading in 1975. A year later, she was approached by girls’ basketball team members to be their new coach. Briscoe, who did not have any prior experience in coaching the sport then, was so excited about the new coaching opportunity that she went to the library to read up on basketball coaching. The self-confessed sports enthusiast went on to coach softball, cross country and track throughout her teaching years.

Briscoe credited her coaching experiences and sports enthusiasm for her successful, thriving career at D.C. Public Schools’ Department of Athletics. In four years, Briscoe was promoted from coordinator to assistant director.

"Having been an experienced coach in high school, it helps me to know for sure what kind of equipment and mechanisms are necessary for the support of a culture that helps students to be successful," Briscoe said.

The highlights of her athletics administration career so far, according to Briscoe, were increasing football participation at the junior high/middle school level and introducing cheerleading as an official sport.

"When I took part in cheerleading at Anacostia Senior High School, I always wondered why cheerleading was not recognized as a sport. Cheerleading, like all forms of sport, is also a competitive activity," Briscoe said.

She launched cheerleading being officially recognized as a sport by D.C. Public Schools with the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association’s first-ever cheerleading championship in 1991. Now, there are provisions made for uniforms and other necessary materials for cheerleading, just as in other sports.

Between 1990 and 1993, many junior high and middle schools began offering football participation as a school sport.

"I felt it was a pity that not enough schools are supportive of football because it is an expensive sport," Briscoe said.

When asked what her personal commitment to athletics is, Briscoe said that passion is her main source of motivation.

"For me, passion means three things: to serve D.C. Public Schools, to help young people realize their sports ambitions, and to focus on promoting athletics. These are what constantly drive me," Briscoe said.

Briscoe, who is married to Anacostia Senior High athletic director and varsity basketball coach Frank Briscoe, has a son studying at Anacostia Senior High. Recognizing how important athletics are in one’s life, Briscoe said she and her husband exposed their son, Jerome, to different types of sports ever since he learned how to walk. Jerome, now in ninth grade, takes part in track, basketball, football, golf and bowling.

Even with her upcoming new responsibilities with the national board, Briscoe said she will not lose sight of one of her priority focuses at the Department of Athletics, which is to increase sports participation in elementary schools.

"The department is always concerned about improving the level of athletics participation in D.C. Public Schools. The participation level is always fluctuating, dependent on the season of the year. To encourage kids’ participation in sports, it is also important to encourage parents to attend sports events with their kids," she said.

Copyright 2006 The Common Denominator