Recently nine individuals retired from Mexico Community Schools.
Even though they'll all be missed for their commitment to the educational process, what each one gave to the school system was as unique as it was appreciated. That's why every person that's stepping away is going to be missed and remembered as having made such a quality contribution. But, there's was only one man who ran the Athletic Department with such smooth efficiency for just shy of a decade and that was Jeff Anderson. Now that he's stepping aside the vacancy he's left behind is a daunting one.
It's going to take a true professional to assume the role of Mexico Activities Director after the last guy did such a quality job and gave such a quality effort. But, if anyone is up for the task its current Bulldogs Assistant Principal Travis Blevins, who will assume his new job duties July 1.
"I applied for the Activities Director job the weekend it was posted. I'm not sure what the actual date was," said Blevins. "Jeff had let us know he was retiring and I've been a head coach in football, basketball and baseball and did those things for years. I feel like the coaches I had in my life were very impactful, very guiding and nurturing. Athletics and activities have always been something I've been involved with, as have my kids, so to me it was a natural fit."
Previously Blevins had been an assistant varsity football coach to Steve Haag at Mexico. The only reason he relinquished that position was because his duties as an assistant principal were that demanding.
"Mr. (Brad) Ellebracht (Mexico High School Principal) has done an excellent job guiding us as far as academics. To me the other part of that is activities and having kids involved in increasing numbers," Blevins said. "We want to improve the environment or nurture the environment for the programs their involved with. The more kids we have involved the data shows they're more successful students. They're more successful adults. To me it's a calling. Something I care about and am passionate about."
Currently Blevins is still involved with his duties as Assistant Principal and is running the summer school program to the point that he can't start easing in to his new job the way Kevin O'Neal has been at North Callaway. Instead, Blevins is slowly but surely trying to learn about his new job while still handling all the responsibilities of his old one because there's no one to turn those duties over to. Yet, but eventually the time for that transition will come and that will be at the start of next month.
"I'm going to play the best role I can for coaches and student athletes. Previously as Assistant Principal I would kind of guide the academic direction, as well as behavioral, social and emotional development for the kids here at school," said Blevins. "As far as working with staff and working with the admin. team, I was a part of that, so all of those skills will come into play (as Activities Director). All the coaching I've done is going to play a role, too. Working with Kris Fecht has been amazing."
Apparently there was a time when Blevins was going to become an assistant varsity basketball coach for the Bulldogs. But, once again his role as assistant principal put the kibosh on it and forced him to put his love of athletics on the back burner once again in favor of academics and other issues.
"All the things I've done in my career should help me. For a short time I worked as an assistant activities director at Parkway because we had a guy retire. We divided up the job duties between two or three people for the winter session," Blevins said. "We went to scheduling meetings and stuff like that. At Auxvasse I ran some things. It was fairly similar. Getting teams, referees and coaches in and out. I've done those things in the past, and that's a part of it, but to be the main person will be new for me."
Blevins new job duties as the Mexico Activities Director will be to oversee all activities. He'll also still be working with students regarding discipline and behavior issues, as well as mentoring and counseling. As for his role with staff, Blevins job will be to observe and recommend different tactics.
"There will be lots of things for me to learn, but I'll always about what's best for kids first. That's something you can always take with you," said Blevins. "I'll do a little of everything. So far I have worked with Jeff (Anderson) in regards to some of the ins-and-outs to how some of the programs go. I'm going to meet Wednesday of next week with all the (North Central Missouri Conference) A.D.'s. Start some conversations. Things like that."
One of the few subjects Blevins has been able to be a part of when it comes to athletics has been hirings. Beyond that he's still been transitioning out of his Assistant Principals position, but he's looking forward to what lies ahead and it's only a matter of time until that's what's on his plate.
"We're going to be about character coaches and character students. We're going to be about people being here for the right reasons, that Mexico is a place that matters to them, that community pride is a big deal and the more positions we can put kids in to be successful that's what we're about," Blevins said. "We want all kids to be involved and if they're not involved we want to know why. Whatever we can do to get more kids going. We want to create a platform to further develop the skill sets they have."