Rebuilding the Buccaneer Brand in a Major Way

From student athlete to teacher and coach, Antoinette Major has found success in her first year as athletic director.
Antoinette Major was named the schools Athletic Director at the start of this school year. She made history as the first woman and first African-American to be named to the position in the schools 70 year history
Antoinette Major was named the school’s Athletic Director at the start of this school year. She made history as the first woman and first African-American to be named to the position in the school’s 70 year history
Febronio Plasencio

As a runner from a young age, Antionette Major has always been driven to go forward. She also knew that running is about pacing yourself. Sometimes you speed up, sometimes you slow down, but you never stop. When her phone rang, and she saw that Principal J.C. De Armas was calling, she didn’t expect him to offer her the opportunity of a lifetime.

“Mr. De Armas called me into his office and said ‘Hey, I want you to be the athletic director, what do you think?’ And I was like ‘Is this really happening?’.”

Through her disbelief, Antionette Major called her best friend to relay the news.

“I remember walking into the courtyard and I called my best friend. I said to her, ‘If I were to tell you that today that I got my dream job, what would you think my dream job was?’ and she was like ‘You’re the athletic director? This is happening?’ and I was like ‘It’s happening.”

Ever since she was a little girl, Major knew she wanted to be a teacher, but now she was going to run the program she used to run for, as both the first woman and first African American to do so.

Her athletic journey at South Dade started as a student when she was on the volleyball, basketball, and track teams. Through all her success, she credits a lot to her track coach, Nathaniel Hudson Sr.

Antionette Major bumps a ball during her senior year on the volleyball team. (Southernaire Staff 1997)

“Coach Hudson Sr. was my track coach, and the amount of time and love that he poured into us as athletes was like he was like my dad. He brought us home from practice sometimes on late nights, and the time and patience he gave us was unmatched. He was just A1.” One of the lessons he taught was the importance of building a community. “Playing sports was more than just a game. We were a family, no matter what sport we played, we supported each other.”

When she beat the track team rivals, Southridge, in the triple jump during her senior year GMAC competition, she realized the true potential of her career. Her original plan for after high school was to move away for college to run track at Alabama State, but unfortunate news regarding the health of her mom stopped her in her tracks.

“The summer after my senior year, I was supposed to go to Alabama State to run track. My mom got diagnosed with lupus, and as an only child, I had to stay home to take care of her.”

Even though she was devastated by the news, she found the inspiration to keep her dream of becoming a teacher alive by applying through the Miami Dade County Migrant Education Program. After four years at Laura C. Saunders Elementary, Major was welcomed back to South Dade as a teacher and was soon offered a job that would challenge and change her perspective.

“You have to be more than a coach, you have to be a parent, you have to be a friend, you have to be disciplinary, you have to be everything that the kid needs to succeed.”

— Antoinette Major

“The day I walked into the building, I ran into Coach Hudson, and he walked with me to Athletic Director Joel Furnari’s office. He asked me if I was interested in being the cross-country coach, and I was just like ‘Woah! I didn’t sign up for all of this now.’ I was just trying to work and get myself through school.”

Coach Hudson expressed his need for an assistant track coach, and it was an offer she couldn’t pass up. In the four years she spent away from South Dade, running was a constant manifestation that came to Major in her dreams, but it stopped when she accepted her new role.

“For the span of time of me not going to college to run track, to me walking back into South Dade, I would frequently have dreams about me running, and running, and running. But when I walked into the school it all went away, so I just knew it had to be my calling.” In her career, she has been a paraprofessional, a data input specialist, records clerk, taught EBD students, English, BMT and served as the Dean of Discipline.

She had first-hand experience with being an athlete, so Major was easily able to connect with her students. “You have to be more than a coach, you have to be a parent, you have to be a friend, you have to be disciplinary, you have to be everything that the kid needs to succeed.”

So when the phone rang that day, she realized her dream of her running had changed to a different kind of running. She would be running the athletic department of her alma mater and rebuilding the Buccaneer brand. She believes this role is helping inspire other people who are in the same shoes she once ran in.

“I didn’t realize the impact this job would have on other people. You walk into a restaurant and you see the way people look at you. There’s a whole community of people who see you and it’s a big moment for them, seeing the representation of themselves. It helped me to realize that this is big, bigger than me and my wildest dreams.”

During one of the pep rallies, Athletic Director Antoinette Major and Principal J.C. De Armas battled in the final round of musical chairs. (Yasmin Alvarez)
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    Marcus AlexanderFeb 9, 2024 at 7:25 am

    I’ve known Major all my life she’s like a sister to me. I don’t think anyone would come close to fitting that job title. She’s tough and professional all at the same time. I’m glad that I’m able to call her one of my favorite people at South Dade.