December 5, 2017 10:57:58 AM
Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District won't have to worry about a gap in leadership for its athletic department when Melvin Smith retires at the end of December.
Board members voted to name Cheyenne Trussell the district's next athletic director during a Monday special-call meeting. Trussell, who currently works as the Hattiesburg Public School District's athletic director, will follow Smith, who will end his stint as SOCSD's athletic director at the end of the month.
SOCSD Superintendent Eddie Peasant recommended Trussell's hire to the board during the meeting.
"We have done a search and interviewed four candidates," Trussell said. "We feel that we have found a great fit for our school district."
The district will formally introduce Trussell with a 2:15 p.m. Wednesday press conference in the Starkville High School library.
Peasant said Trussell will start on Jan. 8. His annual salary is set at $94,000.
Trussell has served with Hattiesburg Public Schools since 2002. In that time, he's overseen a combined $6.1 million in projects for Hattiesburg High School's football stadium, baseball stadium, gymnasium and field house.
Earlier this year, all Hattiesburg High School teams were elected to the Mississippi High School Athletic Association Scholarly Team, with team GPAs of 3.0 or higher. HHS also ranked No. 7 for the ALL Sports Award in the 5A classification.
Trussell also has served as assistant director of athletics for Jackson Public Schools, from 1999-2002. Before that, he served in administrative roles as the high school principal for Murrah High School and Bailey Magnet High School, and as the assistant principal at Murrah High School. He has teaching and coaching experience at three schools in Mississippi, one in North Carolina and one in Louisiana, going back to 1985.
The three board members present at Monday's meeting -- Vice President Lee Brand, Assistant Secretary Melissa Luckett and member Debra Prince -- each voted in favor of Trussell's hire.
After the meeting, Brand said he looks forward to working with the new AD.
"I'm excited about him, from what we know, which is what's in front of us," Brand said. "It's very impressive and gives us a chance to keep some continuity to continue building on the progress that was made under Mr. Smith."
Peasant, speaking to The Dispatch, said he was impressed with Trussell's background and found his experience in managing athletic departments for large school districts an important factor.
"I feel like he can come in and continue some good things that we have going and build on those, and also be a good supporter of our experienced coaches and a great, strong mentor for our young and new coaches," Peasant said.
He also said the district will miss Smith, who's served as AD since 2015.
"We have really appreciated everything he's done for the students in our district," he said. "We feel like we have a lot of great things to build on. So we appreciate him and wish him the best in retirement."
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