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Photograph: Ross Rix was introduced Thursday as the athletic director and boys’ basketball coach at J.S. Clark Leadership Academy by school principal and CEO Tiffanie Lewis. (Photograph by Freddie Herpin.)

Editor/Consulting Writer

A new start and return home for Ross Rix marks the beginning of a major J.S. Clark Leadership Academy athletic program expansion.

Plans for J.S. Clark to develop three additional sports including varsity football were unveiled Thursday afternoon during a live streamed press conference created on the school campus.

Rix, who grew up and played high school sports in the Opelousas area, was introduced simultaneously as the new Clark athletic director and boys’ basketball coach.

A decision to hire Rix said JSCLA president and CEO Tiffanie Lewis will assist in leading a new athletic era for the school.

The media event featured real time questions from reporters of several Acadiana media outlets in addition to athletic associates that have become familiar with Rix during his collegiate and high school coaching career.

Lewis said she sought the employment of Rix in order to obtain the leadership she feels is needed as Clark plans to move forward by adding softball, baseball and football at the school.

“We wanted someone who can bring our sports programs to the next level. We needed the right athletic director to do that and that’s why we brought (Rix) in to lead that effort,” Lewis said.

Rix said there’s a simple answer about why he chose to leave the men’s college basketball program as a Bethune Cookman assistant and accept the position at Clark, which has achieved prominence in Class B boys’ basketball.

“I share and I like the vision that Mrs. Lewis has for (JSCLA) and for me personally it was an opportunity for me to come home. At some point I knew that I would be coming back to Opelousas and this was my chance to do that,” said Rix.

Lewis said she first became acquainted with Rix several years ago when he was recruiting St. Landry Parish basketball players.

During those introductory moments Lewis made an impact.

“I wanted to get someone that would create a solid foundation for our athletic and academic programs and I felt that (Rix) was the person for us to do that,” Lewis said.

Rix said there are short term and long range planning intertwined in his plans at Clark.

“Our short term goal is simple. We are building this foundation and we want to win the district, go to the Top 28 which this school has already done. The only thing left to do is win state, For athletics we are starting new programs in football, volleyball, softball and baseball over the next two years,” Rix said.

Lewis said the athletic program additions would be gradual.

In January Lewis plans to advertise for a head coach in football. Lewis said a component of that current plan is to develop Clark football incrementally, playing at least two years of junior varsity before competing at the varsity level.

Rix said developing additional sports at Clark seems a practical decision, considering Lewis’ vision for the school and his experience at several levels in basketball.

“Why put it off? Why not now? We work well together, Everything here is in line. Now is the time for athletics here to take off. I have no regrets about my decision. The sky’s the limit for this program,” Rix said about his association with Lewis.

Rix said he is not ruling out returning to college coaching, but for now he is committed to building Clark athletics.

In addition to Bethune Cookman, Rix has assisted men’s college basketball teams at Western Kentucky and Louisiana College.

Rix was also the head basketball coach at Northside-Lafayette.