By Syl Sobel
On a sultry late July morning, deep in the warren of administrative offices at Quince Orchard High School, there’s a buzz of energy and activity and its name is Jeff Rabberman.
Rabberman is the new QO athletic director (AD), selected earlier this month after former AD George Awkard left the post to lead the athletic department at his alma mater, John F. Kennedy High School in Silver Spring. He has launched himself fully into his new job, learning everything he can about QO, its community, and the nuances of running the athletic department before the school year begins in earnest in September.
“There’s a lot of things (about the AD’s job) as a coach I thought I knew, and as an assistant athletic director I thought I knew, but now that I sit in the chair I can definitely tell the differences that your mind goes through. It’s a different way to think, a different way to operate,” said Rabberman, who comes to QO after spending the past nine years as head baseball coach at Gaithersburg High School and assistant AD for part of that time.
Rabberman is a Philadelphia area native and former three-sport athlete in high school who has his bachelor’s degree from Temple University and last year received his master’s in athletic administration from McDaniel. Sports is the family business, as his father coached for 50 years at their high school and is in its hall of fame.
“I love athletics,” Rabberman said. “I’ve been around them my whole life.”
Rabberman started his high school coaching career while still in college and came to Montgomery County 16 years ago as an assistant baseball coach at Springbrook, where he also coached football. He became an assistant at Gaithersburg 10 years ago and took over the head job the following year, and also coaches the Gaithersburg Giants in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League, is an officer in the state baseball coaches association, and runs the county high school wrestling tournament.
“I’ve had my hand in a lot of different things,” he said with a laugh, including serving as announcer at the Springbrook and Gaithersburg basketball games.
Rabberman is delighted to be AD at QO. “I’ve always had a lot of great respect for the programs here and what QO represents … Excellence. Tradition. Greatness. … The overall athletic program here is really second to none.”
Through his years coaching in Montgomery County Rabberman has gotten to know many of the QO coaches. “We have an excellent coaching staff,” Rabberman said. “I really, really felt good going into this, felt better after I met everybody.”
Rabberman, who lives with his family in Clarksburg, also has a personal connection to the Quince Orchard community: His wife, Lori, teaches first grade at Rachel Carson Elementary School, where their sons are also students, and “absolutely has loved every second” and “really, really likes the community.” Rabberman likes that it will now be easier for him to attend his children’s extracurricular activities.
“(Quince Orchard) is a special place. That was part of the draw,” he said, adding that the QO community’s support of its high school’s athletics program is “unmatched in the county.”
Rabberman said he’s been working 9 or 10 hours every day since he got the new job. “I dove in head first. … I’ve met with all of our fall coaches and some of the winter and spring coaches, putting together plans for the fall, getting things ready for the paperwork getting turned in, for the first day of tryouts.” He said going all-in is part of his personality. “When I do something I’m all-in, and I’m definitely all-in right now.”
The new AD jokingly said his immediate goal for the forthcoming fall season “is to survive.” He knows he is fortunate to have an experienced and capable coaching staff so that he can focus on administrative matters this first year. After that, “I hope to be sitting in this chair a year from now feeling a lot more comfortable and confident and really having the way that we’re going to do things in motion.
“I think everything happens for a reason,” Rabberman said, “and honestly I feel so blessed to be here and be in this situation and be the athletic director here and work with the people I’m going to get to work with on a daily basis, and really get involved with the student-athletes and the community here to make this the best program in the state.