Four familiar faces in the Belleville East and Belleville West athletic departments now have new roles after Belleville District 201 hired new athletic directors and assistant athletic directors at both schools.
Former Belleville West baseball coach Lee Meyer was hired as the Maroons’ new athletic director, with West football coach Cameron Pettus taking over as assistant AD. Longtime Belleville East football assistant coach Mark Larsen was hired as the Lancers’ new athletic director, with baseball coach and football assistant Todd Blomberg hired as assistant AD.
Superintendent Jeff Dosier admitted it was unusual to be changing the athletic department hierarchy at both schools at the same time, but said a decision was made to make a change.
“All four of them bring a lot of experience with them and they’re excited to be in their new positions,” Dosier said. “They’ve been working feverishly since they’ve been hired. They have a wide range of coaching experience and all four are teachers.”
Dosier said the former athletic directors — Mark Lanxon at Belleville West and Jim Loyet at Belleville East — will remain on staff as teachers. Dosier declined to elaborate further on why the former athletic directors were being replaced.
“We talked about the changes and then we re-bid the positions,” Dosier said. “The new staff was hired.”
One area Dosier seemed interested in improving is fundraising. Both high schools recently got new artificial turf football fields with all money generated through private donations and other sources.
“Things have certainly changed in high school sports now with the way they are funded,” Dosier said. “We are looking to do a lot more fundraising as you can tell with what we did for the turf projects. The new athletic directors and assistants have come in and are working on that as a priority now.”
Meyer, 51, was the Belleville West varsity baseball coach for 12 seasons before resigning that position in 2014. He also was an assistant baseball coach for 11 years, spent 12 years as a basketball assistant and two years as a track assistant.
“I’m really looking forward to the challenge of the new position,” said Meyer, a former college baseball pitcher at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. “To be able to work with the coaches and student athletes at Belleville West is truly an honor and a privilege.”
Meyer’s coaching career spanned the career of the four previous West athletic directors, Pete Hensel, John Wehmeier, Bill Schmidt and Lanxon.
“It’s an honor to follow in their footsteps,” Meyer said. “I’ve been around athletics my entire life and certainly one of my goals was to get back into the athletic department, whether it be coaching or more of an administrative position.”
The 33-year-old Larsen was a standout football lineman at Triad High who later played at McKendree University. He spent the last 10 seasons as an assistant coach under former Belleville East football coach Tim Funk, who retired in March.
“I’m excited and looking forward to working with Todd Blomberg trying to bring some new ideas and some new looks at things,” Larsen said. “Obviously these jobs don’t come open very often. With the administrative background I have, I was definitely interested.”
Larsen said he learned a lot working under former East athletic directors Jim Reynolds and Loyet.
“There’s big shoes to fill, those guys have done a good job,” Larsen said. “I’m still learning the job and trying to keep things going, just worrying about the fall sports right now.”