HORNELL — Being an Athletic Director is not easy. The hours are long, the mistakes are public and the “thank you’s” come less often than the Sectional Championships.

But for Hornell’s new Athletic Director, John Cardamone, any negatives pale in comparison to the good he is able to do for his hometown community and school by helping the students of Hornell High School achieve their athletic dreams.

In addition to his role as the Athletic Director, Cardamone will also serve as the Intermediate School Dean of Students. The job of athletic director may not be a childhood dream, but it's a role that Cardamone has worked years to step into.

“I get to come home back to Hornell, where I graduated. And I’m getting to follow in the footsteps of some great men who held this position before me,” said Cardamone. “I can’t wait to continue on the Hornell tradition.”

And being that he graduated as a Red Raider himself in 1995, coming back to Hornell in this role is every thing he could have every wanted. Because “once a Red Raider, always a Red Raider.”

“That phrase is still in the weight room in the poolhouse. When you walk into the room in eighth or ninth grade and meet those coaches — it’s unbelievable. And it’s not just football, it’s every sport here. It’s a mantra and its a way of life and it’s something that we fully believe,” said Cardamone. “I graduated back in 1995, but now I get to come back home and I’m still a Red Raider. Really, I’m living the dream.”

Cardamone earned his associate degree at Alfred State College and his bachelor’s degree from SUNY Cortland. He went on to earn a master’s in health and physical education from Virginia Tech before becoming a physical education teacher in Virginia for 11 years, including two years as an assistant athletic director. He served in the Baltimore City School District for three years and most recently at Harford County Schools in Maryland.

For Cardamone, this job has always been about one thing: helping the kids. And being able to provide athletic opportunities for students in the town where he grew up is just an added bonus to what is really a dream job for Cardamone.

“You don't do this for money. You don't do it for fame. You do it for those kids. There are 800 kids in that building, and 400 more in the Intermediate School — and all the kids K-12 really become your kids. You want the best for every single one of them,” said Cardamone. “You’ve got to also get the best out of them, and make them believe in themselves even when they don't want to.“There are so many teachers in Hornell that did that for me, so now I get to give back, and I think that’s what this is all about. You pour your heart and soul into helping these kids because somebody did the same thing for you.”