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Notre Dame Prep Athletic Director Mark Cisterna Retiring

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Notre Dame Preparatory Athletic Director Mark Cisterna has decided to retire after more than 42 years as an athletic administrator in Arizona.

“Mark was always there to listen and had your back in any situation,” said his administrative assistant, Bonnie Nystrom. “He made it feel like we were a tight knit family, and he was there to take care of us all.”

Cisterna has been taking care of the Saints as the Athletic Director at NDP for five years, leading the program to a successful stretch on the off the field. The Saints recently captured the 4A State Volleyball Championship, one of 10 state championships under his direction. NDP also recorded five runner-up finishes.

He was inducted into the AIAAA Hall of Fame in 2019 for his 40 years of service in education, administration, athletics and facilities management, his contributions to the Arizona Interscholastic Association and high school athletics. He was also a member of the AIA Executive Board for four years and selected to the Arizona Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2007.

Based on his years working in the state, there is a large network of AIA adminstrators, athletic directors, officials, or coaches that know Cisterna or who have been mentored by him.

“Coach Mark Cisterna has been a father figure, teacher, coach, mentor, confidant, and friend to me for the past 40+ years,” said Max Ragsdale, Athletic Director and Assistant Principal at Campo Verde High School. “Without his guidance and influence upon my life, I wouldn't be where I am today. Reflecting on my career choice 24 years ago, I've conclude that Coach C is the main reason I became a teacher, coach and currently an Athletic Director.  I love that man and would do anything for him!”

Before coming to NDP in 2017, he served as director of athletics for the Maricopa Unified School District (2014-17) for three years and 12 years in Gilbert as the District AD (2002-14). He began his AD career as the Assistant Principal/Athletic Director serving at Apache Junction High School (1987-97) and Gilbert High School (1997-2002)

Cisterna and his wife, Sharon, and daughter, Kourtenay, plan to move to Kansas City in the spring to be near their son, Ryan, wife Allie and their two grandchildren. His final day on campus will be Dec. 16. Steve Shaff will serve as the interim athletic director.

Here are some comments from his colleagues and coaches:

“It has been a great pleasure to work with Mark for the last 5 years. He has been a good friend and mentor to us all in the athletic department. He has always been the constant calming force in a working environment that is constantly changing. His experience and knowledge made things run smoothly. He knew his job inside and out.

He was always there to listen and had your back in any situation. He made it feel like we were a tight knit family, and he was there to take care of us all.

I will miss him very much. I especially will miss him calling my name many times a day through our “cheeseburger” window! I wish him all the best in his new chapter of life! He deserves it!”

·       Bonnie Nystrom, Administrative Assistant

“Mark is an outstanding AD who truly cares about his coaches and student-athletes. I am blessed to have worked with such a remarkable man for my first years as a varsity head coach. I will miss his presence and constant guidance. God Bless you, Mark!”

·       George Prelock, Head Football Coach

“As a young professional entering the workforce as an athletic trainer, Mark was the perfect Athletic Director for me to be working under. In my 3 years working with Mark, he has become a mentor, a friend, and someone I will always look up to in my career. What Mark has done for me in this short time has helped shape me into a better person, and for that I will be forever grateful.”

·       Jacob Arnold, Athletic Trainer

“Mark was someone with experience and knowledge who I always respected and knew I could go to for help and advice. I appreciate all that he has done for me over the past years.”

·       Shelly Dinges, Girls Tennis Coach

“Mark was a great leader for the NDP athletic community and me. NDP Beach Volleyball wishes him the best in his next chapter of life!”

·       Jamie Walsh and the NDP Beach Program

“It has been a pleasure having you as an AD and friend over the years. You have helped me build this baseball program to what it is, and I thank you for everything you have done for me. I hope you enjoy your time with family, and you will be missed by me and the baseball staff here at NDP.”

·       Brian Fischer, Head Baseball Coach

·       Bob Ostrander, Head Swim & Dive Coach

 “Mark was a pleasure to work for. He always greeted me with a smile, positivity & a firm handshake. He always was a family first guy, which I greatly appreciated. He will be missed. Enjoy your retirement.”

·       Marc Siegel, Boys Lacrosse Coach and Assistant Football Coach

“I am not sure if Mark knows the difference between the red line and the blue line on an ice rink, but the NDP Hockey program has been blessed with great support by our AD. Mark’s office was always open for a quick “counseling” session.  His even keeled approach to adversity allowed focus and success through the many obstacles a sports program must overcome. I will always consider Mark Cisterna to be a true mentor in my life”.

·       Charles Miscio, NDP Hockey

“I know that my time has been short at NDP. The words that come to mind are Philippians 1:3-4. I thank my God every time I remember you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy.

I wanted to thank you for selecting me as your new coach this year. I don’t ever propose to know God’s plans for us. I pray that He leads me where I belong. I didn’t think I would end up at NDP if you asked me several years ago. Only God knew. However, this job opportunity has been a huge blessing. I love working in an environment where God comes first. The community has been a great community. Most importantly, from the moment you selected me as your coach, I have always felt supported by you. I have felt your trust in me and belief in my ability to manage the program in alignment with our school vision and mission.

I will be forever grateful for the selection, your trust, and your support. Thank you, Mark. Prayers are up for an amazing retirement. I hope you enjoy spending time with your family and loved ones. God bless”

·       Michael Varela, Girls Soccer Coach

“Throughout the years of working with him I have really appreciated all the communication and feeling like he always had my back. He was always there to listen and talk through things. I never felt as if I and the team didn’t matter, he always supported us. I so much appreciate the time he took to attend our competitions and see us compete as well. He has done a lot for not only NDP athletics but for athletics in general in the AZ community and there are so many people that will be forever grateful.  Thank you for everything!!”

·                  Kacey Hoyer, Head Cheerleading Coach

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