CAMBRIDGE — When Kareem Otey began teaching physical education in Dorchester County schools in 2005, she didn’t know how she’d adjust to life on the Eastern Shore.
“I grew up in Anne Arundel County ... in Pasadena,” said Otey, who was born in Manhattan, N.Y., but moved two years later with her family. “And when I came over here, I didn’t know what it would be like.”
The Eastern Shore is far removed from the hustle and bustle of big-city life, be it to the west or in the Big Apple. The population density of Manhattan is 441 times as high as that of Dorchester County. Anne Arundel County has 20 times as many people per square mile as Dorchester.
“It’s definitely a different pace over there,” Otey said of life west of the Chesapeake Bay. “But I tell you, I adapted pretty quick. I love it here.”
Fourteen years later, Otey, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Salisbury University, is adjusting to a new role — athletic director for Cambridge-South Dorchester High School.
Otey, who stepped down as the girls head soccer coach last year after 11 seasons, but remains head softball coach, succeeds Dan Dobronz, who accepted a teaching position at Stephen Decatur High School.
While not the school’s first female AD — Sandy Woolfolk held the position for a year before Dobronz took over a decade ago — Otey is the first who also coaches.
“I’m big into athletics,” Otey said, “so when Dan decided to leave, I just wanted to make sure that things transitioned smoothly ... that the athletics at C-SD continue to run smoothly and just follow the blueprint that Dan has done so great.”
“I still plan on assisting with the (girls) soccer team,” Otey added. “I just won’t be the head coach.”
Cambridge-SD has not named a new girls head soccer coach, but Otey said she knew of several people who were interested in one capacity or another.
A U.S. Army veteran, Otey was in the military police, where she earned the rank of staff sergeant. She served a tour in Iraq during her eight-year stretch, taking part in Operation Enduring Freedom.
Otey and her husband Eric, a Dorchester County deputy sheriff, recently celebrated their 12th anniversary. They have three daughters.