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New athletic director to guide Picayune through transition

In mid December Kristi Mitchell was named the new Athletic Director for the Picayune School District, which was a position previously held by Walt Esslinger.

Already serving as an assistant principal and softball coach at the high school, Mitchell will now also take on the responsibilities of athletic director.

The athletic director oversees the athletic programs of a school district and makes sure the programs are functioning smoothly.

Mitchell said she understands the duties her new position requires and looks forward to assisting the district’s coaches.

“(My job is) to serve the outstanding coaches we have on staff, to help them with whatever needs they may have,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell has been with the Picayune School District for 25 years and she said a big reason for her tenure has been the people around her.

Not only does Mitchell connect with her coworkers, but with the community as well.

The environment of the Picayune School District and the people within it are what Mitchell said makes the job enjoyable.

“The people we have on coaching staffs, the teachers are just remarkable people. To be able to service them, because they do such wonderful job, makes this job an easier task,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell takes over amidst a transition within the school’s successful football program.

Head Coach Dodd Lee retired following the end of the season and two other Maroon Tide coaches were hired by Pearl River Community College to coach for the Wildcats.

Filling those three holes will be a tough task after a stunning run to the 5A state championship by the football team this past season.

Mitchell said she knows it’s a tough task to replace so many talented coaches, but that she’s up to the challenge.

“It’s a challenge and I’m only humbled and appreciative to our school district that they felt I was up to that challenge. My goal is always to do what is best for the students, school district and our community,” Mitchell said.

Moving into a new position requires adaptation as the position’s intricacies are learned.

Mitchell knows it’s a process and that mastery takes time, but considering her experience as both an assistant principal and coach she is able to uniquely understand the tasks of an athletic director.

The job’s tasks will vary day to day, so Mitchell is preparing herself for the wide-ranging responsibilities she now has.

“There will be a learning curve. The mentorship I’ll receive from administration above me will be great to have,” Mitchell said.

The position may be new and present unique challenges, but Mitchell has a singular focus when approaching the new job.

“My number one priority is the people. That’s how I feel from when I wake up to when I lay my head on my pillow,” Mitchell said.