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Pifer steps down as SOU's athletic director

Southern Oregon University athletic director Phil Pifer will step down from his position at the end of October to join the athletic training staff at North Medford High.

Pifer will begin working with the Black Tornado Nov. 1.

I'm looking forward to it, says Pifer. (Athletic trainer) is what I started out doing, and it's really what I enjoy.

The 57-year-old has served as director of athletics and recreational sports at SOU since 2000. His post-retirement contract with the school called for 19-hour work weeks.

I was getting paid for 19 (hours) and working 30, says Pifer, a Bangor, Mich., native. I told (SOU) I'd continue doing the job but the headaches started surpassing the fun. I wanted a change, and when I saw the (North Medford) job opening, I decided to approach them.

— The position at North Medford opened up when Todd Fandrich left before the season to take the same position at Crater High.

Pifer had been involved with Raider athletics for 24 years, including 20 years as the school's head trainer, organizer of the athletic training program and adviser to Southern Oregon's pre-physical therapy majors.

In 1999, Pifer filled in as interim athletic director when Monty Cartwright went on sabbatical. A year later, Pifer was tabbed to lead the department when Cartwright retired.

The bottom line is, I've been a head trainer for 32 years before going into administration work, says Pifer, who volunteered his services for the North Medford-Eagle Point football game last Friday. It'll be fun getting back into it.

Pifer received his bachelor's degree in physical education from Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo in 1971 and served as the head trainer at Santa Barbara City College from 1971-81. He also served as the president of NAIA Trainer's Association in 1986-87 and as a trainer for the 1984 U.S. Olympic swim team.

His two children also attended SOU. Brian Pifer was a record-setting place-kicker in the late 1980s, while Phil Pifer's daughter, Cindy, played for the Raiders' basketball team in the early 1990s.

While with SOU, Phil Pifer continued to volunteer his services to just about every high school in the Rogue Valley.

If they needed the extra help, I'd give it to them, he says. This was back before high schools had trainers. I'd do anything I could to assist them, and I enjoyed it.

Pifer will work with the Tornado training staff through this year and will play the rest by ear, he says.

I could see doing it for some time, says Pifer. Maybe five years, maybe more. As long as I'm healthy and having fun doing it.

Reach reporter Kevin Goff at 776-4483 or e-mail .