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June 19, 2012

Pearson has strong bond with W. Vigo

TERRE HAUTE — The orientation period for West Vigo High School’s new athletic director is expected to be a short one.

Kenny Pearson was confirmed at Monday night’s Vigo County School Corporation Board of Trustees meeting as the successor to Mike Miller, whose resignation took effect last week after 13 years on the job. And it’s safe to say he knows his way around the building.

A 1984 West Vigo graduate whose children — Jordan and Kaysee — are recent graduates from there themselves, Pearson has, in some ways, never really left.

In addition to supporting Jordan in his basketball and baseball careers and West Vigo and Kaysee in her volleyball seasons, Kenny Pearson was also an assistant baseball coach under Steve DeGroote for seven years, resigning after the 2011 season to have more time to follow Jordan with the Indiana State baseball team this spring.

He’s also been a physical education teacher at West Vigo Elementary and Rio Grande Elementary the past three years, and is now completing requirements for his administrator’s license.

Re-inventing the wheel is not on his agenda, he emphasized.

“My hopes are to continue on with the great things Jim Mann [West Vigo’s 30-year athletic director who was Miller’s predecessor] and Mike Miller have put in front of me,” Pearson said Monday after his appointment was confirmed. “Their longevity will help me; I think Mike has things already scheduled three or four years out … being the third [West Vigo] athletic director in something like 50 years is something to draw on.”

His job officially starts Aug. 1, but Pearson will be in the building before then, he said. At that, however, he still doesn’t have the advantage Miller had — a semester in the building picking Mann’s brain.

“Mike will be in a few times and I’ll be able to get some help from him, just like he did with Jim,” Pearson said. “I’m a little behind in the game and I’ll have to learn really quick, but this is a great opportunity.”

Pearson’s wife, Tammy Pearson, is also a West Vigo graduate and the West Vigo community’s representative on the school board. The couple took pains to make sure there was no conflict of interest in his hiring, Kenny Pearson said.

“I work for my wife every day,” he joked, “and I’ve wanted this job for a long time. I started my resume four years ago [before Tammy was elected to the school board], when Mike said he’d be retiring. [Tammy] abstained from the vote [Monday night], and I think the people from West Vigo know if they see her at a game it won’t be as a school board member, it will be as a booster club member or working in the concession stand.”

Returning to a familiar building will mean leaving two others, Pearson pointed out.

“[Teaching P.E.] is something I’m going to miss,” he said. “I really love those two places.”

And being athletic director means Pearson will have to give up his other West Vigo job, working the chain gang at home football games.

“I’ve been on the football sideline for 14 years. Jim Mann hired me his last year,” Pearson said. “I guess that’s my first order of business: I’ll have to replace me.”

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