WEST CHESTER, PA — After three decades spent cheering for West Chester Area School District students on and off the field, Susan Cornelius, Athletic Director for West Chester East High School, celebrated her last day with the District on Friday, September 23, 2022.
Prior to becoming the first female athletic director in the WCASD and Ches-Mont League, Cornelius, a WCASD Alumna, started as a daily substitute for health and physical education at WC East. She then became a health and physical education teacher at Stetson Middle School. During her 18-year tenure at Stetson, Cornelius ran the Outdoor Education Program and served as Stetson’s Athletic Director for six years. The 2022-23 school year marks her 19th and final year as WC East’s Athletic Director, where she oversaw 24 varsity sports and over 45 extracurricular activities.
Cornelius’ passion for athletics and the outdoors began long before joining the District as a staff member. “I was a three-sport athlete when I attended WC East as a student, and, as a child, I always enjoyed playing street hockey with my siblings and friends or just exploring outside.”
Her passion for playing sports transformed into a love of coaching following an injury while playing field hockey for West Chester University. “I dislocated my knee cap during preseason and needed to use an immobilizer while recovering. During that time, I decided to start coaching and found that I enjoyed encouraging and pushing others to be their best.”
“I have coached many sports at different levels throughout my career, but being the assistant coach on the 1985 WC East Field Hockey State Championship Team was one of the most memorable coaching experiences that I will carry with me into retirement,” added Cornelius.
In addition to her responsibilities in the District, Cornelius has been a member of the PA State Athletic Director Association (PSADA) and National Interscholastic Athletic Administrator Association (NIAAA); served as the District I Representative for the Ches-Mont League, District I Chairperson for Lacrosse, District I Lacrosse tabulator; and hosted the PIAA State Lacrosse Championships at WC East for the girls’ and boys’ teams for the past six years. In 2019, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association named her the Region 1 Athletic Director of the Year in recognition of her exceptional efforts and years-long support of students in athletics.
“Sue has been a true example to our students, our families, and her peers of how one person can use their interests and skills to make a lasting, positive impact on their community,” said WC East Principal Stephen Brown. “It has been such an honor to work with Sue and to experience her dedication and care for people and sports first-hand – she will be greatly missed.”
While Cornelius looks forward to upcoming travel plans and new adventures, she will hold her experiences and WC East community close to her heart. “Coming to work every day to be with the students and helping them to become the best they can be has been one of the greatest joys of my life.”
“To see students’ faces when they accomplish something that they never thought they could and to support our student-athletes and coaches as they built Viking Pride in our community have been such rewarding experiences – I can only hope my new adventures are as fulfilling as these last 36 and half years have been,” added Cornelius.
“For the past 19 years, Sue Cornelius has served the WC East High School community with great distinction,” said Superintendent Robert Sokolowski. “Under her leadership, East athletics has fostered a strong culture of athletic excellence with high academic achievement. We are so grateful for the tremendous example Sue has set for our students and we hope to continue seeing her cheering from the sidelines in the future!”
Joining the WC East High School as the new Athletic Director is Mr. Ryan Zehren. As a coach of high school athletics for 17 years, Zehren is looking forward to becoming part of the community and using his past experience to support students in pursuing academic and extracurricular activities.