When Keith Cubbage signed on to be the athletic director at Page County High School 15 years ago, he was truly returning home. He can almost say the same as he gets ready to take over that same position at Stonewall Jackson High School.

Cubbage, a 1985 Page County grad, will soon leave his alma mater to take the reins of the athletic department at Stonewall, where he spent 17 years as a teacher and coach before departing when given the chance to realize his goal of becoming an AD. The soon-to-be 54-year-old was approved as Stonewall’s new athletic director on Thursday evening and he’ll begin his new post on July 1.

“I’ve always said Shenandoah County was always good to me during the 17 years that I was there,” Cubbage said on Friday, “and this kind of really solidifies that thought process because of my desire to return. It’s an exciting time. I’ll be honest, it is mixed feelings. I’m a Page County alumni, I live in Page County, and so when I left Stonewall to come back here, I truly came home. It’s a really strange feeling. I’ve got a lot of friendships here, but it’s almost like I’m going back home to Stonewall, too, because a lot of people that I’ve coached with and a lot of the friendships that I made in Shenandoah County I have maintained even during my tenure at Page. I don’t feel like a newbie going in. I know a lot of those people. I’m good friends with those people.”

Cubbage’s connection to the Stonewall community was part of what made him stand out in what Principal Mike Dorman called a “pretty deep” pool of seven or eight candidates who applied for the position.

“He knows the community,” said Dorman, who coached football alongside Cubbage during the latter’s first stint with Stonewall. “He’s been here, still knows most of the people, still has relationships – a lot of good relationships – so he was just a good fit for that position for us.”

Cubbage, who coached football, volleyball, boys basketball and track and field during his 17 years at Stonewall, said he’s looking forward to rekindling relationships with many of his former athletes in the area who are now adults with children of their own.

Cubbage fills an AD position at Stonewall that was left vacant when Mike Lenox, a former Stonewall baseball coach who took over that post in 2017, was named the acting assistant principal at Peter Muhlenberg Middle School in Woodstock in August. Lenox had “acting” removed from his title in April and will remain at Peter Muhlenberg.

Cubbage brings experience to the AD position at Stonewall, and he said he strives to serve as a mentor for younger coaches and that one of his first orders of business in his new role would be to gather feedback from coaches regarding what works and what doesn’t within the athletic department.

“I’ve been in the business 32 years, and I’ve been a coach and I haven’t forgotten my roots as a coach, so I still see the coaches’ side of things. But I’ve also been an administrator for 15 years, so I see that side as well,” Cubbage said. “I’ve always believed in finding a common ground when possible to help coaches out.”

Dorman said there’s “no doubt in my mind” that Cubbage will be a “great mentor” to the young coaches on Stonewall’s staff.

“We have a lot of younger coaches now, and to have a guy like Keith to rely on, who’s been doing this a long time, is gonna be a real asset,” Dorman said.

Cubbage’s ultimate focus, though, is centered on the student-athletes, he said.

“I want our kids to learn life skills through athletics because I’ve said all along: school is about educating, athletics are about educating,” Cubbage said. “Kids learn to deal with success, they learn to deal with failure, they learn about staying on the bench, they learn about being the star. It’s about managing all aspects of that because those are all life skills that you’re gonna deal with as you get jobs and so forth once you move into the workforce.”

– Contact Brad Fauber at bfauber@nvdaily.com