Greg Harlan has been a staple of St. James athletics for the last 22 years and now he's taking a new role.

The long time St. James football coach was announced as the replacement for Phil West as the school's activities director on Thursday, Jan. 25 and he's looking forward to this new challenge.

"It's exciting any time you have changes either personally or professionally. It leads to new responsibilities and new challenges," said Harlan. "I've been a coach in the St. James School District for 22 years and there's not been a year that's gone by where I haven't coached something, so it'll be a change for me, but it's certainly a change we're looking forward to."

Harlan will take over for Phil West, who held the job for 17 years. West was a part of the hiring process, sitting in on interviews with candidates, and thinks that Harlan is an excellent fit for the job.

"I really feel like he will do a really good job with the position," said West. "He's always been involved with athletics and activities and he understands the importance that they play to the students and the community. He's a very smart, organized and meticulous person who I think will take this position and run with it."

The fact that Harlan and West have worked alongside each other as coach and AD for the last 17 years should help the transition process for the new AD. West will also continue to be at the school as an assistant principal, so he'll be able to help get Harlan used to the position.

"We're hopefully going to be able to use this time to where I can help Greg transition into the position," said West. "So I can show him what the scheduling process looks like a year in advance and stuff like that."

The other thing that makes the transition a bit easier is the fact that Harlan has been a part of the track, basketball and football teams in different coaching capacities for the last 22 years and has built relationships with countless people in the world of sports that St. James is a part of.

"Over the course of those years, I've been able to meet a lot of the officials and other athletic directors, other coaches, the people I'm going to be dealing with on a daily basis." said Harlan. "Already having known people and having a relationship with them, I would like to think is going to make the transition a little more seamless."

Harlan also pointed out that his job is in fact going to be as the activities director, so his job isn't just about athletics. He's looking forward to being involved with the other activities at the school that he hasn't had as much time for while he's spent his time coaching. 

"We have a really good band and choir program, our speech and debate team, theatre, I could go through all the different activities that we have. When you're coaching individual sports like I have for a long time, you don't really get to get out there and see what a lot of the programs do and we've got a lot of good things going on," said Harlan. That's probably the thing that I'm looking forward to the most is the fact that I'm going to be able to see a lot of the other programs shine at what they do." 

The first big duty for Harlan will actually come into play before he officially starts the job and that's finding his replacement as the school's head football coach. The main people on that job search will be West and Harlan, as well as principal Joe Stammers. Harlan thinks this is a great time to be in the hunt for a new football coach because the program is currently hitting some high notes. 

"I'm kind of in a unique situation again, where the coach gets to have some say in who replaces them," said Harlan. "There's a lot to be said about the program we have right now, coming off a conference championship, we've got a good set of coaches and a lot of players coming back, we've got a great facility with our turf field. There's a lot of positives for anyone who's looking for a change in their football career."

Harlan said the number one thing he's looking for in a new head coach is someone that cares about the student-athletes first and foremost.

"We want somebody that's student-centered and understands that football is an important aspect of what these kids are doing, but they're students first," said Harlan. "We've gotta make sure we get someone who is going to look out for the whole player on the field and off the field."

Harlan will stay at his current position through the end of the year and will help out with offseason activities for football until the new coach is named and is ready to take over. West will officially hand over the reins as AD on July 1, 2018.