Six years after returning to Denton ISD to become the district’s assistant athletic director, Russ Reeves is leaving after this week to tackle a new challenge.
The Rockwall ISD Board of Trustees named Reeves its district’s athletic director after receiving approval last week. Reeves’ last day with Denton ISD is Friday. Interim assistant athletic director Buck Smith will replace him.
Reeves has worked two stints in Denton for a total of 18 years. The 44-year old said he’s thrilled about his new opportunity.
“What it means is all the hard work that I put in here and that Denton ISD has allowed me to do, I get to apply those things to a great community that values athletics just like Denton and be able to impact kids there just like we impact kids here,” Reeves said. “That’s the most exciting part about it all.”
He will take over for Scott Smith, who was hired by Houston Baptist as associate head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Smith was previously the RISD athletic director and the head coach of Rockwall. But with Smith’s departure, his role was split into two positions, RISD Superintendent Jeff Bailey said.
Bailey said the process involved a list of candidates screened by a search firm that was cut to three finalists for the vacancy. The three finalists then met with a committee, where Reeves was chosen to become the district’s new athletic director.
Bailey said he’s very excited about Reeves’ addition to the district’s staff.
“He brings a lot of good experiences from Denton, which is a very high-performing district with multiple high schools,” Bailey said. “We’ve got two high schools here, and I think he brings a lot of experience and leadership here to help lead our athletic program in Rockwall to the next level.”
That next level is something on which Reeves also touched. He said he benefitted tremendously from working under Denton ISD athletic director Ken Purcell for the last six years.
“I truly feel like it’s been an old-fashioned apprenticeship, that the things that he’s taught me and worked here are things that are universal,” Reeves said. “I believe that if I apply those things [in Rockwall], then we can take it to the next level, and that’s exciting to me.”
As excited as Reeves is for Rockwall, Purcell is excited for Reeves. Purcell, now in his 16th year in Denton, said Reeves will be the first of his pupils to have taken an athletic director position.
Back when Purcell was the head coach at Allen, he said nine of his coaches had taken a head coaching position at one point. Now it’s Reeves who has advanced his career.
“He’s an excellent classroom teacher, and he has a passion for athletics,” Purcell said. “I hated to lose him, but I knew I was going to lose him because of the quality he is. It was just going to be a matter of time before some school district found him.”
Smith, Reeves’ replacement, has been the stadium manager at C.H. Collins since it opened in 2004. Purcell said Smith will hold the position on an interim level, as the 65-year old Purcell is planning to retire at the end of the calendar year.
“My plan is to retire next December after football season,” Purcell said. “When we get out for the Christmas holidays, I’ll probably be through. And whoever takes my place should, I feel, be able to hire his own assistant.
“For me to hire an assistant that works for me for seven months, I just don’t think that’s a good idea.”
Reeves won’t be here when that time comes. He’ll be building his own legacy in Rockwall, hoping to replicate Denton’s success in his new district.
“They have great facilities,” Reeves said of Rockwall. “They’re a fast-growing district. They have all the things in place that Denton had in the mid-90s. The factors that made Denton successful I believe are there in Rockwall. They just need to be drawn out.”
BEN BABY can be reached 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .