AUGUSTA — Jon Christopher was one of the most successful athletes ever to come out of Madison. But in a span of 22 hours this week, both of his children did something he’d never done.

Each advanced to the regional final of their respective high school basketball tournaments.

“We were guilty of looking ahead,” Christopher recalled of his junior year, in the winter 1988-89, when Madison lost in the semifinals while anticipating a matchup in the finals with York.

The undefeated top seed in Class A North, led in part by Christopher’s 15-year-old daughter Jaycie, the Skowhegan girls routed Messalonskee on Tuesday to set up their date in the final Friday night. The very next day, senior Marcus Christopher scored a game-high 18 points to push the Cinderella Indians into a date with rival Lawrence for the A North championship.

Not that the proud father has much time to relish all the good times this week. Christopher is busier these days than an ant below the surface after a runny-nosed 4-year-old kicked the top of its anthill.

As the Skowhegan Area High School athletic director, he’s being pulled in a thousand directions.

“It’s fun. I think,” Jon Christopher said, holed away in his office to take care of tournament week logistics on Thursday afternoon. “I think sometimes because you’re so busy in this role as it is, it’s really hard sometimes to enjoy it as much as you’d like to. It also helps you, probably — where the average parent fans get stressed out about it a little bit, I don’t really at all.”

Jon Christopher was the quarterback on back-to-back Madison state championship football teams in 1988 and 1989 — his junior and senior seasons. He went to the University of Maine to continue his career in that sport and became another all-too-familiar story. An arm injury cut his playing days short, and instead of being open to switching to another position — the Black Bears wanted him to give it a go as a tight end — he walked away.

He regrets that decision still.

Christopher briefly embarked on an engineering career with his degree in the field, but soon the tug of athletics returned. Coaching and athletic administration were his avenue back.

“When I came back to do this job a few years ago, the one thing they told me was we want you to do the job, but we also don’t want you to miss your kids’ stuff,” he said. “They’ve given me the support to cover stuff. This year was going to be hard no matter what, whether I was AD or not.

Because Marcus is a senior, Jon said he’s been to somewhere in the neighborhood of 14-18 of his games this season. He’s not neglected Jaycie, seeing roughly half of her 20 games this winter. Her time is coming, he said.

Where the public sees only the tug of job responsibilities interfering with a father’s desire to watch his kids play the game they love during one of the most memorable weeks in the life of young Maine student-athletes, Christopher instead prefers to look at some of the advantages his profession affords.

On Thursday, half an hour before the start of a scheduled practice for the girls basketball team, Jaycie was alone on the floor shooting foul shots. Jon was under the hoop, dutifully rebounding and returning the ball for the next attempt. As the administrator in charge of scheduling the gym’s use — even on the morning of a small snowstorm — he knows when it’s free to be used.

His close working relationship with Skowhegan’s basketball coaches, Tom Nadeau and Mike LeBlanc, gives him a unique perspective on how each of the team functions and the off-the-court identity each group assumes.

More than that, he’s in contact with all of the student-athletes in Skowhegan and roots for all of their individual and collective successes.

There’s a richness in being so close to so many young people working to achieve dreams. Having two teams — the girls a runaway favorite for most of the season, the boys perhaps the only team in the region nobody on the outside saw coming — from his school playing for the right to advance to the Class A state championship round is as exciting as it gets for an athletic director.

Doubly so, when both of that same athletic director’s children are directly involved.

“I’m not a coach. I’m not a parent. I’m not an AD,” Christopher said. “I’m just like a big mix of it all, trying to do whatever I can to help everybody be successful. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I just try my best.”

If the Indians pull off the double Friday night, it’s only going to get better — and busier — next week.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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