Many likely wouldn't blame Reggie Bolton if he were intimidated by the situation he's entering.
Bolton, who accepted the vacant athletic director position at Bakersfield College on Tuesday night, is beginning his tenure in less-than-ideal circumstances. Having already been shutdown since March, the athletic department's immediate future is still very much uncertain, as continuous spikes in coronavirus cases are leaving fall sports in doubt.
But Bolton, who has more than 20 years of experience as a football coach, says facing high-pressure situations is a big reason why he was drawn to athletics in the first place. And though he'd strongly prefer a predictable march towards a standard autumn, he says this challenge isn't too large to take on.
"I think one of the things the coronavirus has made us face is we’ve got to have a new way of doing things," he said. "We’ve been working on it basically since the campus was shut down. It’s a very strange situation, but we look forward to the challenges. That’s what we do. We face adversity, we adapt and we move forward.”
Bolton was officially announced as athletic director on an interim basis Wednesday morning. The interim tag was applied as part of a district hiring policy.
He replaces Sandi Taylor, who announced her retirement in May after holding the position for seven years.
"We are excited to welcome Reggie into this important leadership role on campus," BC Vice President for Student Services Zav Dadabhoy said in a press release. "The Bakersfield College athletics history and tradition are second to none and we are confident in Reggie's leadership abilities to take the department into the next great era of Renegade Athletics."
Though his role has changed, Bolton isn't new to the department's inner workings, having worked at the school in some capacity since 2007.
He was the defensive coordinator of the Renegade football team for 13 years, stepping away at the end of the 2018 season.
He also served as associate athletic director during the 2013-14 school year and has been the chairman of the school's kinesiology department since 2013, a department he was also named interim dean of on Wednesday.
Having already developed an intimate understanding of how the department works, Bolton expects a smooth transition, or at least as smooth as current circumstances allow.
"It's nothing new to me," he said. "It just feels like I've (already) been doing (the job). It's just moving to the next level."
Bolton won't waste any time trying to figure out the best way to navigate murky waters. With the CCCAA set to determine the fate of fall sports on July 17, Bolton expects that "sports will begin in some degree" at BC starting next week.
Though he didn't specify what activities would consist of, Bolton says the department will mandate proper social distancing measures and that athletes will be required to wear masks, wash their hands regularly and be limited to groups of 10 or less.
“This is our one trial opportunity to try to prove to our administration that we can keep things clean and mitigate the spread of the virus and keep everybody safe," Bolton said.
If and when normalcy returns, Bolton says his sole focus will be putting his stamp on a winning department the community can get behind.
“The direction we’re moving in is a positive one," he said. "The one thing we’re going to focus on is we’re going to build a winning culture from the inside out.
"One thing that I’ve learned (since I’ve been here) is that we have a rich tradition of Bakersfield College athletics and people take pride in that in the community. We feel like we need to build our culture from within and make those individuals proud to say they are proud to be a part of our community.”