By Tara Fort

Missy Townsend, Dean of Students / Athletic Director for Prescott High School, knows that hard work pays off.  Whether it be for herself, her staff, or her students, she knows that putting forth the effort will reap unbelievable rewards. Townsend recently witnessed this first hand when she was awarded a level of distinction through the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA), and earned her Certified Athletic Administrator certification. The certification program itself is based on the premises of continuing education, professional growth and program development for those who are in athletic administration. Attaining this certification demonstrates Townsend’s own plan for self-improvement—an attitude and level of passion that transfers to her staff, district students and this community.  The requirement process for the certification is lengthy and time-consuming, and Townsend’s distinction is among 2,000 athletic directors who have obtained this designation since the inception of the NIAAA CAA certification in 1989. In her career, Townsend also received Yavapai County High School Teacher of the Year for 2012-2013.

Townsend once used the word “Renaissance” as one name that defines the district, stating, “The word ‘Renaissance’ means rebirth. Over the years, PUSD has experienced its own rebirth by bridging the gap between programs that were once offered, to better offerings today within the athletic program curriculum.” Women’s sports, particularly, has come a long way, and Townsend is quick to credit those who support her role.  At the high school, she has two female head coaches, Bobbi Yoder for Badminton and Girls Basketball, and Cylinda Bray for Cross Country / Track and Field, who help guide the team of student athletes. Says Townsend, “Coach Bray and Coach Yoder are not only amazing coaches but some of the strongest women I know. Their passion for their sport is second only to their passion for their athletes and their success.” Townsend is proud to report that, “Prescott High School has seen an increase in female sports participation over the last two years. We expect to continue this trend.  For the first time in three years we have maintained our head coaches in almost all our sports and have not had the major turnover in coaching that we have experienced in previous years.  A major part of keeping girls in sports at the high school level is to have coaches who recognize the challenges that females have in sports, and to understand their psychology and what drives them.”

In order to retain the interest in women’s sports offered at PUSD, the school is known for setting itself apart on many levels. At PUSD, there are offerings for more sports than any other Northern Arizona school, including girls Badminton and boys Volleyball.  Townsend states, “No other schools north of Phoenix offer these two sports.” Townsends invites everyone in the community, whether those families have a student at the high school or not, to attend the school’s events all year long.  For Townsend there is no limit to the offerings through the school, as evidenced by her dedication. She states, “This is my third year as the Athletic Director at Prescott High School.  I take immense pride in being the first female athletic director at Prescott High School in its 116 year of athletics.”

For more information about Prescott Unified School District and Prescott High School, visit