Semelmacher named new Johnston athletics and activities director

HeatherJOHNSTON, IA. (May 22, 2023) — Heather Semelmacher has been selected as the Johnston Community School District’s new athletics and activities director, pending board approval June 12.

She will officially start her new role July 1 and will succeed Mike O’Connor, who is leaving to join his family in the Waukee Community School District, where he will be student athletics and activities director for Timberline School.

“I am thrilled to join the Dragon team,” Semelmacher said. “I bring over 20 years of experience in athletic administration at both the high school and college levels. I am passionate about education and the importance of developing relationships with students and parents. I am greatly excited to work with all of the amazing coaches and sponsors in Johnston and collaborate with them on next steps.”

Semelmacher has served as the student activities manager in the Des Moines Public Schools since 2020, working with the district’s six high schools and 10 middle schools. Before moving to Iowa, she worked as district athletic director and Title IX and equity athletic director of Alhambra Unified School District, a district with more than 6,000 students and 2,500 student athletes in Alhambra, California.

She’s also worked in athletic administration at the college level, serving as assistant athletic director, senior compliance officer and senior women administrator at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). She’s been a head lacrosse coach and an assistant senior women administrator at both Claremont McKenna, Scripps, and Harvey Mudd College; as well as at State University of New York at New Paltz. She also served as an assistant field hockey coach at New Paltz.

“Heather comes to Johnston with an impressive background in athletic administration in both high school and college,” said JCSD Superintendent Laura Kacer. “Her record shows her passion for school activities and athletics, and her dedication to ensuring that all students have opportunities to participate in our programs.”

Semelmacher earned her master’s degree in athletic administration from Grace College this year. She earned her bachelor’s degree in sports medicine and sports marketing/management with a minor in business administration from the University of Lynchburg. She holds her athletic administrative license with the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners.

In her new role, Semelmacher will be part of the Johnston Community School District’s administrative team. She’ll be the administrative adviser organizing, supervising and maintaining Johnston’s award-winning program of student activities and athletics. 

Johnston captured state championships this year in boys track and field, middle school mock trial and men’s golf, as well as a national championship in show choir. Johnston also won the state championship in baseball and girls basketball last year. In addition, the district’s spring musical has for the past two years won the state’s Outstanding Musical Production Award, the state’s highest honor in high school musical theater.