When Mike Morgan took the job as the Muscatine athletic director two years ago he called it his dream job. Now, weeks away from saying goodbye for good, Morgan said his two years on the job lived up to his own billing.
“Instead of having four kids I have 1,500 kids I get to work with,” Morgan said Monday, watching the Muscatine girls soccer team go through warmups. “The whole community comes and supports our high school.
“We have that smallness because we’re one high school but we’re big enough that we’re competing with all the Davenport and Des Moines schools.”
One week away from turning 56, Morgan is calling it a career, retiring after working as a classroom teacher, athletic director and in secondary administration for over 20 years.
“I thought about it last year a little bit,” Morgan said. “The timing wasn’t quite right. Just to have the freedom to do what I want when I want to do it.”
His first post-retirement activity will be Memorial Day weekend when he and his wife Mary attend their daughter’s wedding.
Morgan’s last day could be as early as May 28 or 29, but he also left open the possibility of assisting on a part-time basis through the summer while the school district works to fill his position. When his replacement is officially named, Morgan says he will be available to help and guide when needed.
“I told them I’d be more than willing to help out to try to transition the new person in,” Morgan said. “I’ll always be a resource, just like Chuck (Van Hecke) was for me.”
Morgan worked under Van Hecke for two years in the 1990s before becoming the Louisa-Muscatine athletic director, where he stayed for seven years. Once his kids got older he got back into athletics as the Muscatine activities director in May of 2017.
The VanHecke Center was built and opened under his watch, though Morgan says “I was blessed to walk into that.” There are still projects left to come that will have Morgan’s imprint, though. The basketball court will be redone this summer. The walls in the gym have been repainted. New bleachers and a new diving board stand are coming for Carver Pool and the tennis courts will be redone over the summer.
Still, Morgan hopes to continue to play an active role in the Muskie Booster Club going forward with a new football stadium on his mind.
“I’d like to take a more active role with that part of it,” Morgan said. “That’s the plan right now because I can manage my own time. I get to pick and choose when I want to be part of it and when I don’t.
“We’re in desperate need of a new football stadium, it was built in 1986. I’d like to get it because I’m proud to have worn the Muskie colors and been a Muskie.”
Morgan will have something else to occupy his time though as one of the founders of Fighting Chance. The company was founded as an idea to help protect students and teachers in an active shooter situation by securing the door closer arm that is on most classroom doors. The company invented The Sleeve, which fits over the top of door closers. Morgan estimated Fighting Chance, currently made up six employees according to its website, will pass $1 million in sales in June.
“(Muscatine Community College) partnered with us in 2014,” Morgan said. “It’s nice to have the security blanket that I own a company. I can still generate revenue. That really gave me the security blanket of taking that leap.”