Bay High School athletic director Vern Barth has left his position with the school to take an administrative position at Tommy Smith Elementary School, the school announced Wednesday.

Barth has spent the past six years as the Bay athletic director after coming over from Port St. Joe where he spent four years as head football coach and athletic director. He has also served as an assistant football and wrestling coach with the Tornadoes. The process of moving away from athletics and into administration started over two years ago, Barth said.

"I talked to my wife about it and prayed about it and it just felt like a natural progression for me," he said. "I talked with (Bay principal Billy May) and we both agreed, so I pursued it. I eventually want to be a principal. I don’t know where that’s going to be, but that’s what I want to do. I’ve always had that aspiration in the back of my mind, but I’ve got to take that first stepping stone to do that."

Barth, who earned his master’s degree in Education Leadership from West Florida, said that he had reasons both professional and personal for making the move.

"I think I’ve gone as far as I can go as an athletic director," he said. "This feels like a calling, that I need to do something else. More importantly, it gives me a chance to see my (8-year-old) daughter every day. She goes (to Tommy Smith Elementary) and this will allow me to see my family a lot more."

In a press release, May said that Bay has advertised internally for Barth’s replacement as AD. Whoever replaces him, May said the next athletic director for the Tornadoes would have "huge shoes to fill."

While excited about embarking on a new chapter in his career, Barth said he cherishes his time with the students and the faculty at Bay.

"I’ve had an opportunity to coach some great kids," he said. "I get to work with a great faculty and an incredible principal in Billy May, who has been really supportive. I’m really appreciative of all the hard work and effort of the coaches who worked under me at Bay putting together some quality teams and helping kids see what life is all about. I’m going to miss them a lot."