No two days are the same for Shane Backhus, activities director and assistant principal at McPherson High School.

For 11 years now, Backhus has overseen dozens of high school programs and was recently recognized for his work and dedication. This month, Backhus was named the District 1 Athletic Director of the Year, presented by Kansas Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association.

“It’s a nice honor — it really is less about me — and more about the great people that I work with. My secretary, Tennille McCormic, and before her Arlene Sawatzky, and guys like Doug Wine and Dave Larson, who help with our programs, our excellent coaching and teaching staff, building and district level administration, our students and the community of McPherson all play a big part in the successful activity programs — it’s definitely a team effort,” Backhus said.

With over 21 athletic programs, five fine arts programs and multiple student clubs and organizations, Backhus does it all.

"For our upcoming spring season, we currently have 300-plus participants in baseball, softball, girls soccer, track and field, girls swimming, boys tennis, golf and clay target shooting. In addition, we have another few hundred students involved in band, choir, orchestra, forensics and drama," Backhus added.

Along with his duties of organizing clubs and the athletic department, Backhus also oversees many areas of outside school activities.

"I am responsible for the administration of all MHS activities, half of the student discipline, some teacher evaluations, supervision among other things. Our office is always working ahead, schedules are made a year in advance or more. Plans for activities take place weeks in advance," he added. "On the day of the activity, we spend several hours prepping for it so that when it is time to begin, everything is in place and things go smoothly. I get to the office about 7:30 a.m. and on days we have events, I often don't get home until 9 or 10 p.m. or later."

"This award recognizes Mr. Backhus as one of the best athletic directors in the state of Kansas. Mr. Backhus will receive the award at the Spring KIAAA conference in on April 14 in Manhattan. There are four high school district athletic directors of the year and one middle school athletic director of the year," said Bryce McFarland, principal of MHS.

While this is a notable award to win, Backhus still keeps the students and the community in the forefront of his mind.

"I have had a lot of people reach out and congratulate me, I hope they are happy with the job that I do," Backhus noted.

Although Backhus wears many hats, one thing remains the same — his love for his students and the McPherson community.

"I enjoy watching students grow from their involvement in activities. No matter if that is an athlete or a student involved in the fine arts, it's great to watch teams and individuals who have set goals for themselves to meet those goals," he noted. "I would say the thing that sets my job at MHS apart from other athletic directors in the state is the community of McPherson. Parents and community members are very supportive of our school programs and along with that comes high expectations for our programs. We experience a lot of success across the board from athletics to fine arts — I feel like part of my job is to provide our staff with the tools and knowledge to help meet expectations and maintain high standards."

McFarland, staff and peers at the high school feel that Backhus is more than deserving of this award.

"Mr. Backhus is dedicated to providing top-notch activities at McPherson High School. The time and effort he puts in on a daily basis definitely doesn't go unnoticed. His leadership is greatly appreciated," McFarland added.

Contact Brooke Haas by email at or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.