Mike Poynter is passionate about providing a good balance between coaching to win and coaching to enhance the lives of student athletes.
Poynter graduated from Hammond Baptist High School in Schererville and attended Olivet Nazarene University, where he was on the wrestling and football teams.
This father and husband has always loved sports and education, but found his calling when he was a student at Purdue Calumet in 1993 when he was given the opportunity to be an assistant wrestling coach at Highland High School.
“From the first day being involved in coaching and working with young people, I just knew it’s what I wanted to do. You never have a drudgery to come to work when you are doing what you love and what you know you are supposed to be doing,” Poynter said.
Poynter has lived all over the region because his career in education and coaching provided many different opportunities. While at Boone Grove High School in Porter County, Poynter was part of starting the football program, which tapped him into a new passion: athletic administration.
“I really wanted to get deeper into athletic administration and help coaches build athletic programs,” he said.
Poynter got the chance in the summer of 2014 when he took the athletic director position at South Bend Career Academy, where he made the commute from his Portage home before taking the position at Portage High School as the assistant director.
“My role as assistant athletic director is first to help the athletic director [Fred Joseph]. Together we want to do all the things that keep our coaches focused on nothing but their athletic programs and student athletes and making them better.”
Day to day, Poynter works closely with Joseph on the administrative side of the job, scheduling events, contests, and officials, and communicating with schools throughout the state so coaches can focus on their athletic programs and athletes..
“I think athletics in general are an invaluable asset to education,” Poynter said. “I really believe that through sports we are able to reach a lot of kids and help foster those traits of not quitting, handling adversity, and being a leader.”
In addition to his duties as assistant athletic director, Poynter also takes great joy in recognizing the achievements of Portage High School’s student athletes and coaches.
“I use social media to recognize the good that happens on a daily basis,” he said, “Nowadays our society focuses on the negative three times as much, in my opinion, as they do the positive, so finding those good stories and successes and broadcasting those things to the public is something that I love to do.”
“Many of our student athletes are among the best academic achievers in our school, and most of that is attributed to the desire to be competitive and to not quit. That is carried over to every facet of life,” he said.
Most recently, Poynter and the athletic department made a team effort to reorganize the college signing celebration due to changes made by the National Letter of Intent (NLI). The changes govern when student athletes from various sports can sign and when coaches can talk to athletes about recruiting them.
“The college signing celebration has become more significant today than it was in the past and we want to be able to recognize what our student athletes are doing beyond high school and on a grand stage,” Poynter said. They opted for three celebrations in the school year: one each early in the school year, in mid-winter, and late spring. Being in education for more than 20 years, Poynter understands the changes in the field, but believes it’s important to remember the main focus.
“Just being in education today, it’s important to remain positive, and know that you are here for the kids and making their lives better.”
When Poynter is not enhancing the lives of the student athletes and coaches at Portage HIgh School, you can see him enjoying anything outdoors. “I love to hunt and fish, and anything I can do with my wife and sons is awesome.”