After Kyle Sample learned he had been hired as the new athletic director at Cristo Rey High school in his native North Philadelphia, the 33-year-old’s first official tour of the school’s facility on West Allegheny Avenue included rooftop access with a view that allowed him to see his childhood home.
“It’s almost breathtaking to see the neighborhood that raised me and that taught me so much about life,” Sample said in a phone interview. “It’s a tough place, but if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.”
On Monday, the school announced via press release that Sample had been named its next athletic director, replacing Daniel DiBerardinis, who had accepted the same role at St. Joseph’s Prep in June.
Sample had been the boys' basketball coach at Harriton for the last three years. For the last 15 years, he also has worked within Kyle Lowry’s K-Low Elite AAU basketball program, serving most recently as its assistant director.
“We are very pleased to welcome Kyle Sample into the Cristo Rey family,” said John McConnell, the school’s founder and president, in a statement.
“We look forward to expanding our athletic programs under Kyle’s leadership to include additional competitive teams and intramurals as well as youth and community athletic programs,” McConnell added.
Cristo Rey currently competes in the Penn-Jersey Athletic Association. According to the school, more than 25% of its 550 students participate in at least one of its 12 sports.
Sample played basketball and football in high school and graduated from Northeast High in 2005 after transferring from Cardinal Dougherty. He also played a season of Division II college football at Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina before transferring to West Chester University, where he studied athletic coaching and nutrition.
“It doesn’t feel real yet,” Sample said. “To be able to come home, especially somewhere so close to home, it just feels full circle to me.”
“It’s a different role from coaching,” he continued, “but the mission stays the same: to help as many kids as possible…”