Mark Lee new Weeki Wachee athletic director (update: 5:00 p.m.)

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Fri. February 19, 2010 | Izzy Gould | Email

Mark Lee may have felt more vulnerable than ever a little more than a month ago.

Funny how a few weeks can turn someone's world around.

On Friday, Lee was hired to be the first athletic director at Weeki Wachee High, set to open in August. This after he was fired as the head football coach at Nature Coast in January after school administrators determined he and the football program did not mesh.

Lee coached Nature Coast for one season, guiding the Sharks to a 7-4 finish and a playoff berth in 2009.

After having very little control over operations at Nature Coast, Lee essentially has been given an opportunity to lay the cornerstone at Weeki Wachee, something he called an "inspiring chance."

"Right now, I'm the athletic director," Lee said. "As a whole, you will try to have that influence. You have a great opportunity to use athletics to make a statement here. One of the things that will be done here, it will be done the right way. Things will be black and white. If you have good work ethic and good character this is where you will want to be."

Lee will continue to teach at Nature Coast through the school year, but he will immediately begin helping his Weeki Wachee athletic director duties. He will order equipment for fall sports teams while helping principal Dennis McGeehan fill supplements yet to be approved.

That includes the head football coaching position. 

Lee said he wants to coach football, but recognizes the tremendous task of starting an athletic program.  Asked if Lee would be considered as the football head coach, McGeehan said, "A lot of us will be wearing many hats." In other words, a decision has not been made.

"Right now there's so much stuff that needs to be done from an athletic director standpoint," Lee said. "I haven't thought about the football too much. We'll sit down and discuss it. I'm definitely still interested in coaching football. I haven't lost the passion. That's not going to happen for a long time. But if it's just being an AD, it's just being an AD. You have a great opportunity to be an influence on a kid's life."

Lee said life at Nature Coast after losing his coaching position has been aided by the support of colleagues in the physical education department, returning Nature Coast players and support from parents. He's also leaned on his father, Steve Lee, who is an athletic director at Thomas Stone (Md.) High.

Lee said he also has found inspiration in Lou Holtz and paraphrased the essence of one of his inspirational messages.

"To get to the top you'll always face adversity," Lee said. "It's how you respond to it, how you handle it and what you do to overcome it that matters."

igould@tampabay.com

twitter.com/izzygould

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