Trussell time: SHS introduces next athletic director

Cheyenne Trussell
Staff Writer

Making big-time hires is nothing new to Starkville-Oktibbeha County School District Superintendent Eddie Peasant.

A veteran in administration, Peasant has been all over the state including in school districts at Clinton and Tupelo. He’s worked closely in athletics over the years and, in less than a year, has been a big part of things for Starkville High School.

When the athletic director position was set to open up after Peasant was notified that Milton Smith would retire at the end of the year, he had several names in mind. One of the first ones to come to his head was longtime friend and mentor Dr. Cheyenne Trussell.

Trussell has spent the last 15 years building Hattiesburg High School into one of the state’s top athletic departments and has boosted the academic side of things for athletes down south.

When Peasant approached Trussell about the job, he was a bit surprised he was receptive enough to check it out and eventually accept.

“I would say that he was a person that I would have dreamed of being able to get," Peasant said. "He was in Hattiesburg for years so there was no guarantee that I could lure him from a place that he had loved.

“I was a little surprised that I was able to pull him away from there, but at the same time, I’ve been blessed and fortunate with him and others I’ve been able to hire. It’s all about relationships and we’ve had a relationship for a while.”

Trussell was formally announced in front of community members, coaches, media and athletes at SHS on Wednesday afternoon. He was met with a warm embrace by the faculty and coaches and his excitement came out immediately in his comments about what lies ahead.
“The feel of Starkville is like I’ve been here all along though I haven’t,” Trussell said. “Just the welcome that I’ve gotten has been awesome.”

With over 30 years of experience in administration from Louisiana to North Carolina, Jackson and Hattiesburg, Trussell is well-received. In 2014 he was chosen the Mississippi Association of Educational Office Professionals Administrator of the Year as well as the University of Southern Miss National Girls and Sports Day Award Winner. In 2005, he was the Mississippi High School Activities Association Athletic Director of the Year.

For 15-straight years at Hattiesburg High School, Trussell balanced the athletic department budget through 40 percent cuts and two tornadoes. He helped plan over $6 million renovations in athletic facilities over that time to football, baseball and basketball.

“I want to make sure that the coaching staff is family-oriented and close-knit, (and) that we support each other and we share athletes with other sports," Trussell said. "That is very important to succeeding. Also, we want to take a strategic look at the facilities and work with the booster clubs to see how we can move forward.”

Peasant credited Trussell in being the reason he pursued a doctorate degree. Needless to say, he felt that Trussell checked all the boxes of the leader of SHS athletics moving forward.

“I think that we have a person in here that is seasoned and has successful experience," Peasant said. "He’s a proven leader and is someone that can be a great mentor. There are teachers and coaches that I’ve spoken to all around the state that have been mentored by him and they’ll tell you how great a mentor and how knowledgeable he is. He will give our students everything they need to be successful and reach their potential.”