FOUR QUESTIONS…A CONVERSATION WITH ROB BLISS
Rob Bliss is currently in his second year as the principal at Maiden High School in Catawba County after an outstanding career as a men’s basketball coach.
A recipient of the NCHSAA’s Charlie Adams Distinguished Service Award, Bliss came to Maiden after three years as the head basketball coach and athletic director at Fred T. Foard, where he also served as an assistant principal. He turned the Tigers’ hoop fortunes around, as the team was winless in conference play for three years prior to his arrival and won the conference championship in 2013.
Rob, who has taught history throughout his career as a teacher, also enjoyed stints as head coach at West Henderson (2006-11), East Burke (1999-2006) and Brevard (1996-99), with tenures as an assistant at Freedom, East Burke and West Caldwell. He directed outstanding turnarounds in the programs at East Burke and Brevard, too. For instance, East Burke had only two playoff appearances in basketball in school history before Rob arrived, but the Cavaliers made the playoffs all seven years he was there to go with four conference championships.
Rob and his wife of 29 years, Julie, have two children. Trey is a freshman at N.C. State and Brianna is a junior at Foard.
What is the most difficult thing about being a high school principal?
The most difficult thing about being a high school principal is trying to fund the many worthy projects with a decreasing budget. We are fortunate that we get financial support from our great community, but we still are forced to cut some beneficial programs because of a lack of funding.
Before moving into administration, you were a very successful coach. How did that prepare you for the role that you are in now?
In my experience, coaching was the single largest factor in preparing me for a principalship. As a coach, you realize quickly that if you don’t spend preparation time wisely your results on game nights are going to be poor. I always told my players that if everything is important, nothing is important. You have to determine what gives you the best chance for success and focus on those things.
Another critical lesson I learned from coaching is that success always gets down to relationships with other people. You can be the most knowledgeable person in any field, but if you can’t make it relevant to others and get them to buy in, then your impact will be negligible. These were my guiding principles when I was coaching, and they remain for me in administration.
What is your best memory from your time as a high school coach? You had a number of successful teams.
There are so many…if I listed all the specific moments I could write a book but no one would read it!
In general, it starts with the relationships I have been blessed with. Being the son of a successful coach, I was exposed to so many positive influences that shaped my coaching mentality. I also was blessed to have several great mentors throughout my coaching career.
Like everyone, I remember the championship teams that I was fortunate enough to be associated with. But without question, my fondest memories center around the relationships that I built with the young men that I coached over 24 years in the business. It was always a thrill to see them be successful, especially when no one thought it was possible. To be a part of growing a program from the ground up was a great feeling.
In your limited spare time, what are some of the activities you are involved in away from athletics?
To be honest, not much!! I like to go to the beach in the summer for a couple of weeks, and I like to play golf. But I am fortunate in that I get to do what I love every day, and athletics is a big part of the high school experience.