December 7, 2017 10:18:11 AM
STARKVILLE -- Eddie Peasant can consider the favor repaid.
Cheyenne Trussell encouraged Peasant to chase his doctorate degree and willed him to finish it. Peasant believes he wouldn't be superintendent of the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District without that push.
This week, Peasant repaid the favor by granting Trussell an opportunity.
On Wednesday, Trussell was officially introduced as Starkville High School's athletic director. The SOCSD confirmed him Monday.
"I was looking for someone who would be able to come into our school district and our program and support and continue to guide our coaching staff, and also being a strong mentor for our new, up-and-coming coaches," Peasant said. "Finding someone who had successful experience was a major part of that."
Peasant will start Jan. 8, 2018, after current athletic director Melvin Smith retires.
Trussell spent 15 years as athletic director at Hattiesburg High, which just competed in the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 5A State championship football game. In his time there, he took on a combined $6.1 million in projects that upgraded the school's football and baseball stadiums, gymnasium, and field house.
Trussell thanked Hattiesburg for expediting his move.
"It's a good feeling to be at a place for 15 years and they're still sad to see you go," said Trussell, who added it was a difficult decision but one he did for a reason. "I wanted to be a part of something special. You have one city, one district, Jacket Nation."
Trussell said the fact that the districts of Oak Grove, Petal, North Forrest, Forrest County AHS, and Sacred Heart are all on top of Hattiesburg's contributed to his desire to want to be part of something special.
Now Trussell can focus on the student-athletes.
"I always try to relay the fact that athletics relates to life and decision-making, and I try to relate four things to our student-athletes all the time," Trussell said. "One, play hard, every play. In life, you have to get up and move every day. Secondly, I don't care how hard you play you have to have fun. It's a game.
"Third thing, I don't care how hard you play, I don't care how much fun you have, you have to stay in the moment. You have to remember what your coaches tell you to do and stay focused. In life, you have to make choices like that. Finally, whether you play hard, whether you have fun, whether you stay in the moment, you have to finish. In life, you still have to finish with that high school diploma, with that degree, because that's what's going to keep you going."
Trussell's time in Hattiesburg included two tornadoes and a 40-percent budget cut. He knows he won't have to make any drastic moves at Starkville.
"This program is already achieving," he said, with last year's girls basketball state championship trophy to his right and the 2015 football state championship trophy to his left. "There's no sense in re-inventing the wheel. We'll tweak it and move forward accordingly. The strategic plan is going to involve all of you, and that means getting a chance to meet with each and every one of you coaches to see where we are moving forward."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson
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