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Newton-Conover High School's new athletic director says he wants to take the Red Devils sports program to the next level.
School district leaders say he has the athletic and administrative experience to do it.
Billy Leeson was hired this month to serve as NCHS's athletic director and assistant principal.
"We like the fact that he has had assistant principal and athletic director experience," said NCHS Principal Kevin Campbell. "We think his personality will fit well leading our athletic department, and everything we heard when we talked to his references was about his interaction with kids, and how positive that is."
Leeson started his 27-year education career as a teacher at Abingdon High School in Virginia in 1985. He spent the past 11 years in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
He is currently dean of students at Vance High School, where he served this past season as interim head football coach and interim head wrestling coach.
"I went up (to Newton) three years ago and went to one of their job fairs," Leeson told The O-N-E on Tuesday. "I just heard a lot of good things about Newton-Conover."
Leeson is expected to take his new post April 9. He will replace Ericia Turner, who in February accepted a job directing athletics in the Alamance-Burlington Schools system.
Leeson takes over direction of a Red Devils athletic program that has captured state championships in several sports in recent years.
This academic year, the NCHS volleyball team won its first state title on the court, and wrestlers Franklin Wepner and Addison Klutz secured individual state crowns on the mat.
Red Devils teams have also won state titles in football, soccer and tennis in the past five academic years.
"I've done a little bit of everything," Leeson said. "I'm looking forward to taking my experience and seeing if there's any way I can help Newton-Conover to the next level. I haven't spoken with the coaches yet, but I'm looking forward to it. I want to come on board and see how I can help get better in any way."
Leeson will start the position at a salary of about $67,500, according to Newton-Conover City Schools (NCCS) officials. That salary includes his ranking on the state public schools pay scale and a 9 percent administrative salary supplement that all NCCS administrators receive, according to district officials.
Campbell said 35-40 candidates applied to be NCHS's athletic director and assistant principal. A committee interviewed eight candidates before choosing Leeson. The NCCS Board of Education approved Leeson's hire at a March 5 meeting.
"Not everyone that applied had an athletic background, so we were able to narrow down based upon administrative experience, athletic and athletic director experience," Campbell said. "The other comments that his references made about (Leeson) is if you give him a task, it's going to be done correctly. They talked about him being a good communicator, team player. So we certainly liked all those things about him as well. I think he's someone who â€”once he gets here interacting with our faculty, staff, students and community â€” people will enjoy interacting with."
The O-N-E Staff Writer Nash Dunn contributed to this report.