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Jay Beech taking on athletic director role at Poplarville

Jay Beech will maintain his position as the Head Coach of the Poplarville High School football program, but has also taken on the role of athletic director for the Poplarville School District.

Beech has been in the new position for a couple of months and has had to learn on the fly with the COVID-19 pandemic serving up unique challenges.

Former AD Jonathan Ray has been a source of information for Beech as he learns the ins and outs of his new position.

A big part of the new position is the inherent understanding of state and district policies regarding athletics, Beech said.

“That’s my job to make sure all of that is being followed and taken care of,” Beech said.

The change came just a few weeks before athletic activities were cancelled by the Mississippi High School Activities Association, which means Beech has had an unusual start to his tenure as AD.

“As far as athletic duties we haven’t had any yet. It’s just been a waiting game,” Beech said.

Providing athletes the opportunity to get physicals has become a pressing issue for athletic programs.

In past years getting a physical wouldn’t have been an issue, but because of the pandemic athletes haven’t been able to go to the doctor’s office and get a physical completed.

Some states’ athletic associations have made the decision to extend the validity of last year’s physicals, which Beech said may be an option in Mississippi as well.

“I’m just speculating, but they may allow physicals for (more than a) year long period, and maybe extend the validity of physicals through the summer to give students time to still get physicals and practice,” Beech said.

If that decision isn’t made, then athletes will have to wait and get a new physical before being able to participate in any summer sporting activities.

There were some roles that needed to be filled around the high school campus when Beech took over as athletic director, including the band director, volleyball coach and softball coach.

Beech said Janessa Deckwa, who was an assistant coach for the softball program last season, was promoted to head coach.

Meanwhile Kenneth White has been named the new band director with interviews still being held to fill the volleyball coaching vacancy.

Interviewing during a pandemic has led to some changes being made to the process itself.

“When doing interviews a few people get in a big room and at separate tables, so we don’t bring too many people in at one time. We’ve done a few interviews that way,” Beech said.

Beech said being an AD wasn’t something he was aiming for, but after the opportunity became available he did what was in the interest of the school.

“It was a move that helped the school out the best. We could make a few changes that would help the school out the best and that’s what we all did,” Beech said.