Maine Central Institute football players run drills during a 2017 practice. The school's athletic director, Jim Leonard, is stepping down at the end of the school year. Credit: Ashley L. Conti / BDN

Jim Leonard, who is in his seventh season as the athletic director at Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield, is stepping down after this school year to spend more time with his son.

His son, Jackson, is a senior at the Pittsfield school and intends to study art at the University of Southern Maine in the fall.

“I would like a job that requires significantly fewer hours attached to it so I can enjoy some things with my son,” the 59-year-old Leonard said.

“We’re close. We’re good buds. He is job number one, always. I don’t want to fall out of touch with him. I want to see him grow up to become a man and see all the things he can do,” Leonard added. “And it’s time. I want to do something different.”

Leonard previously spent eight years as the athletic director at Rockland and Oceanside High School. He said the job has changed during his 15 years and is more time consuming than ever, especially during the COVID-19 era.

“There are way more hours and way more responsibilities within the school and within the team community,” Leonard said. “You don’t just paint lines on the fields, mow the grass and set up for games. There are so many more elements to the job.”

He said it has been challenging finding time to spend with his son due to the volume of work.

“It has been difficult during COVID. There are simply not enough resources to do what the government has asked us to do,” he added. “I have had to take on some other roles. But we’re soldering on and fighting through it at MCI and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of it.”

Leonard was the athletic director at his alma mater, Rockland High School, for four years before it merged with Thomaston’s Georges Valley High School and became Oceanside. He spent four years at Oceanside before moving on to Maine Central Institute.

“It has been really, really fun” being an athletic director, Leonard said. “I like watching kids compete. I will miss the kids but I will really miss the coaches. I have had some unbelievable coaches. I have been fortunate in that regard.”

Leonard has had an interesting life.

He played basketball and football at Rockland High School before graduating in 1980. He spent four years in the Army as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division.

He returned to the midcoast and worked for the Rockland Fire Department before attending the University of Maine and earning a journalism degree in 2002 with a minor in public relations. He was the school’s valedictorian.