Former Cougar, Dunbar Returns To Lead Athletics

He recently served as the AD for Garner Magnet High School


Bryan Beck and Vianey Hinojo

Coach Jeff Dunbar has held many roles in education since 1996, including time as the Knightdale head football coach and the athletic director at Garner, yet he still decided to come back to Wake Forest, after departing in 2004, to serve as the new Athletic Director. 

He puts his students first and has helped guide and shape students and athletes as a teacher, coach, administrator and director of athletics. 

Though Dunbar is the Athletic Director, that is not his only area of expertise.

“I initially got my sports and administration degree straight out of college, and got my teaching degree at the same time, knowing I wanted to do something like that in the future. Then I went back to school for the school administration part, just to have more of an influence on our students,” Dunbar said.

He has always had a drive and love for sports as he played football in high school.

“I always had that passion. It was always my initial passion to be in athletics. I saw it as a tool to shape students in the right way,” Dunbar said. The school administration part of it is working in all aspects of development and to end my career, I wanted to get back in that single area of athletics” 

Working in the school, whether it be as an administrator, coach or teacher, comes with a lot of responsibilities.“All scheduling for events, facilities and budgeting are about every aspect you can think of to get the events to take place is what I do. The budgeting aspect deals with the community to help fund the athletic program. In regards to personnel, I have the responsibility to find coaches, referees and people to stay at the gates,” Dunbar said.

Our school isn’t just any high school for Dunbar. He has been a part of the community for decades, and as he transitions back to the high school, it is almost as if he never left. 

“I really think it has that community based theme. It hasn’t lost its identity. When I walk the halls, it’s the same pride, school and town that it was twenty years ago,” Dunbar said.

Dunbar goes back to his roots to instill lessons he learned into his career today.

“I love football. Football really shaped who I was in high school. I’m glad that we found success here. When I came here, I worked with coach Harrison, coach Hales and coach Lucas. So it is just good memories with football being my favorite,” Dunbar said.

Difficulties arise when handling much responsibility, and high school athletics is always evolving. 

“Relationships with any position are important, sometimes challenging. When you look at the aspect of sports, we do have difficulty getting officials and things that we didn’t have issues with before,” Dunbar said. “The aspects of the job don’t really change because the same things are there. You need the finances to support the program and you need the personnel to support the program.” 

State Championships earned by football and soccer helped propel athletics into the state-wide spotlight. Dunbar must work to continue to meet the needs of our athletic programs and continue to foster the chance for success. 

“We want to make sure that our coaches have all the training and knowledge they need to be successful. We want our facilities to be the best in the county. We want to be able to financially support all of our programs,” Dunbar said.

Dunbar makes it clear that being an athletic director goes far beyond the athletic part. He uses his position to shape our athletes beyond the playing field.

“It’s a great tool to mold and to influence, which helps students mature especially with the educational base model. I see that continuing. I believe it’s one of the best tools we have to shape character and to influence our student athletes to success,” Dunbar said.