BELPRE - Eastern High School grad Stephanie Evans has taken over the duties as Belpre's athletic director and head softball coach with the retirement of veteran teacher-coach-AD Ken Cox.
Evans, 31, served as the Golden Eagles' head volleyball coach for the last four years and the last two assisting Cox with the softball team.
A 1999 graduate of Eastern, where she was a standout softball and volleyball player, Evans holds both bachelor and masters degrees from Ohio University, the former in integrated language arts for education and the latter in education administration with a principal and superintendent license.
After earning her undergraduate degree from OU, Evans returned to Eastern for four years to begin her coaching career, then was at Trimble and finally for a year at Southern before coming to Belpre for the 2009-10 school year.
To be an athletic director "was one of my goals and the idea for the future when I went into education administration in grad school," said Evans. "That was something I was always interested in, as well as eventually way down the road, I would like to be a principal."
Her schedule at Belpre will allow Evans to teach seventh-grade language arts for half a day and perform her duties as AD for half a day as well.
"Being in sports has always been a part of my life," said Evans, "and that just goes hand-in-hand with administration as the athletic director, so they mesh well together."
Her athletic life took off in school at Eastern as a three-sport athlete in softball, volleyball and basketball. As a senior, Evans was the Tri-Valley Conference softball MVP as well a first-team all-district and second-team all-state selection, and was first-team all-TVC and all-district in volleyball.
With her Southeast Ohio background, Evans is already "very familiar with the coaches and athletic directors of the TVC, which is helpful. So if I get stuck with something and have a question, there's lots of people I can get a hold of to help me - as well as Ken."
She particularly singled out Cox, with Evans noting that "we worked well together, and he's done an excellent job preparing me and going through the ropes with me to get me ready. He was great in doing that for me.
"But he has big shoes to fill, because he did a great job (as AD) when he was here and is definitely going to be missed."
"But I consider myself very lucky to have the opportunity for him to teach me everything that I needed to know."
Cox officially turned in his retirement letter in February, and "I toyed around with it for while," said Evans.
"You know, 'Am I ready for this now? But sometimes, you just have to take a hold of the opportunity when it comes along, and I did, applying for the (AD) job when it was posted" and went through the interview process.
Evans said she's "getting more and more used to, and comfortable with" sitting in the athletic director's chair in the high school office. "Still, I sometimes feel weird sitting here, thinking Mr. Cox should be here and I should be over there in the other seat. But I'm liking this more and more all the time."