Scotty McDaniel is headed back to Gwinnett County as the new athletic director at Peachtree Ridge.
McDaniel, the athletic director at Northview just across the Fulton County border since 2015, has plenty of ties to Gwinnett, including his first seven years in education. The longtime Buford resident — he recently moved to Cumming — was a long-term substitute teacher at Mill Creek for a year before working at South Gwinnett, Dacula and Mountain View, a school he helped open in 2009 as an inaugural staff member.
Peachtree Ridge’s athletic director position became open when Ryan Lesniak was hired at Jackson County.
“I was in Gwinnett County already. I was at Mountain View for five years and I spent time at Dacula, Mill Creek and South Gwinnett, so the opportunity to come back as athletic director was exciting,” McDaniel said. “Being athletic director for the past eight years (at Northview), it comes with its challenges. We have an awesome academic school, but when it comes to athletics it’s a challenge. It’s just a challenge because we have less staff and that means less coaches. Having the opportunity to come back to Gwinnett is great. I was a head coach in the GFL (Gwinnett Football League). I was a head travel baseball coach at Bogan Park for a long time. It’s exciting to come back to Gwinnett, where athletics really reigns supreme.
“My two stepdaughters graduated from Peachtree Ridge. My wife was a booster club president at Peachtree Ridge. So I’m also coming back to a place where I have a connection. I even used to be a store manager at the Home Depot right down the road from (Peachtree Ridge). … It’s kind of full circle now for me to get an opportunity to come back now, get back in 7A and compete at the highest level. I’ve always felt Peachtree Ridge was a good opportunity and a school that has so much potential athletically.”
McDaniel also is close with new Gwinnett County Public Schools athletic director Jason Holcombe.
“Jason and I have a long history together,” McDaniel said. “We coached at Dacula together. His wife works at Mountain View and I worked there with her. And Jason was the AD at Johns Creek (until this year) and that was my rival school (at Northview). We were two miles apart.”
McDaniel, a Virginia native, served in the U.S. Army for more than 11 years — he began as a sniper, served as an infantry captain and lived in Hawaii, Alaska and Egypt — before transitioning into a store manager and analyst at Home Depot for two years and eventually finding his way to education. The University of Tampa graduate has a degree in finance (he spent a decade as an AP economics teacher), as well as a specialist degree from West Georgia.
During his career, he has coached football, basketball, baseball, softball, swimming, tennis and wrestling. In Fulton, it often meant coaching on top of his duties. That won’t happen in GCPS, which doesn’t allow its athletic directors (as assistant principals) to coach.
“Gwinnett County to me is different in how they operate financially, it’s so much different than Fulton County,” McDaniel said. “In Fulton County, athletic directors purchase everything, helmets, uniforms. Where in Gwinnett County, that is run heavily through booster clubs. That’s a huge difference financially in job responsibility. Another difference is here athletic directors don’t serve in an assistant principal role. So there’s an opportunity (at Peachtree Ridge) to serve in an assistant principal role. In Fulton County, athletic directors are kind of on an island. They’re not a teacher, not an assistant principal. Kind of the most unique person in the school.”
At Peachtree Ridge, he inherits some of the nicest amenities in Gwinnett with new scoreboards, a new video board, new artificial turf and the Heyward Performance Center, a workout facility not offered at many schools.
“I’m interested in the feeder programs, the parks that feed into the school, too. We don’t have those in Fulton,” McDaniel said. “I want to come back and develop not only the high school, but also the feeder programs. I’ve spent a lot of time in those (Gwinnett) parks and I want to let those kids and parents know how important it is what they’re doing at that level.”
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