McHenry hires one of its own, boys basketball coach Chris Madson, as new AD

32-year-old will take over new role July 1

McHenry could not have selected anyone more “McHenry” as its new athletic director.

Chris Madson, a 2009 McHenry East graduate who has taught in District 156 since 2013, will take over as the new AD on July 1. Madson’s hiring became official at Monday night’s school board meeting.

Madson has been head boys basketball coach for the past six seasons, so one of his first hires will be his successor. The Warriors were 51-114, with a 19-10 season in Madson’s first year. McHenry was 13-19 this season and has most of that lineup returning for 2024.

“You can’t always control your talent you get as a coach, but you can craft that experience (for your players). When I thought about the opportunity of athletic director, it was the same kind of approach.”

—  Chris Madson, new McHenry athletic director

“I don’t know how many athletic directors get to become that at their school in a big-school environment,” Madson said. “I know in small-town situations that can be the career track. I did not expect this opportunity to pop up at all. We had just hired a new AD.

“I had such a great experience being a high school athlete at McHenry. I loved being a student. But being an athlete, I had great coaches and great mentors. You can’t always control your talent you get as a coach, but you can craft that experience [for your players]. When I thought about the opportunity of athletic director, it was the same kind of approach. I want coaches to stay here. I’ve always been here, and I’ve never seen a reason why anyone wouldn’t want to be here.”

Joel Beard was hired as McHenry AD and interim football coach last year, but he resigned the AD position in April. Former AD Barry Burmeister, who retired after 35 years in District 156 last year, returned to finish the year in his old position.

Now Madson, a Northwest Herald All-Area basketball player at McHenry, is the Warriors’ AD at age 32. He played basketball at NCAA Division III Lake Forest College after graduating high school and taught in the social science division, then in English Language Learning.

Madson just finished his Master’s in Educational Leadership on May 6, which helped him land the AD job, although it was not requisite. Sometimes ADs are hired who are in the process of finishing their Type 75 certification.

Madson is pleased he will have experienced assistant ADs Rob Niemic (fall), Brian Rockweiler (winter) and Matt Adams (spring) with whom he can work.

“Those guys have done it for three or four years now,” Madson said. “Those guys are really, really good mentors. Coaching different sports like girls track and football, you get the full perspective.

“Athletically, Barry was always a very transparent AD and talked to me about that. The most successful ADs that any coaches or school has had are really, really focused on being really good leaders.”

Giving up coaching at this point was tough for Madson, particularly with a young, talented group returning.

“The opportunity popped up, and I had been thinking about how I could have more impact as a leader for a while,” Madson said. “It was, by far, the hardest decision out of all of this. I met with the guys before this. I felt they were owed that. There were nights when I went back and forth. Career-wise and longevity, this is what I want to do. The guys on our team bought in years ago in our summer camps and are really building it up.

“When thinking of that and the coaching staff, that was the hardest. Our coaches and students here need an AD who is all-hands-on-deck for all sports. I’m really excited for this job. If I didn’t have a chance to still be involved in athletics with those kids and those coaches, if they were asking me to be an assistant principal and I couldn’t coach anymore, I probably wouldn’t have pursued it. It would have completely removed me from athletics. The silver lining is, as athletic director, I still get to be involved to see them succeed.”