By Tracy Hayney/Managing editor
After retiring as principal of Henry Clay High School in Lexington earlier this year, Jake Bell was waiting for the right opportunity to present itself. He said that opportunity came when he was offered the position of interim athletics director for Eastern.
“This is a dream position,” Bell said. “To be associated with the tradition of Eastern Kentucky University athletics is amazing.”
Bell was offered the position at Eastern after meeting a few times with University President Joanne Glasser. On Nov. 1, he will replace current athletics director, John Shafer, who announced his resignation due to health concerns last week.
“It’s a little intimidating,” Bell said of replacing Shafer, who has served as athletics director of Eastern since February 2003.
“(Shafer) really cares about Eastern Kentucky University. He really cares about the athletics department, and he really cares about the athletes,” he said.
Bell, originally from Western Kentucky, graduated in 1967 with a master’s degree in counseling from Georgetown College, where he played football.
He began his career as a science teacher and coach in 1965 for Bryan Station High School in Lexington and later for Henry Clay. In 1993 he was named associate principal for Tates Creek High School in Lexington. He served as athletics director for Georgetown College from 1997 to 2000 before returning to Henry Clay as principal.
To earn extra money while teaching and coaching, Bell officiated basketball games in the Southeastern Conference, Ohio Valley Conference, Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletics Conference and Great Lakes Valley Conference in addition to high school games.
He said he enjoyed officiating but eventually got tired of the traveling.
As Bell prepares to begin the next chapter in his athletics career at Eastern, he said he couldn’t be more excited. Although the transition will be a quick one, Bell predicts the switch will go smoothly. He will meet with Shafer to learn the specifics of Eastern athletics until he takes over in November.
“Anytime you move to a new venue, there is always a different way things are done,” Bell said. “I hope these three weeks can provide a transition so we can maintain the momentum that is already there.”
Bell has plans to meet individually with all of the coaches to get an idea of where they are going and will later meet with the players of the teams.
“People are looking for me to lead, and I need to step up and do that,” Bell said, adding his mission for Eastern athletics is “to provide an opportunity to each team and each student- athlete to be as successful as they can be.”
Bell’s term as interim athletics director will continue through July 1.
He has plans to meet with Glasser after basketball season to discuss his future at Eastern.
“I am really in hopes things will work out,” he said.
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