Smithfield: Sports

Hunter Jenks to lead South Johnston High athletics

Hunter Jenks, at left, is the new athletic director at South Johnston High School, whose new principal will be David Pearce (at right).
Hunter Jenks, at left, is the new athletic director at South Johnston High School, whose new principal will be David Pearce (at right). JOHNSTON COUNTY SCHOOLS PHOTO

Hunter Jenks was a part of a memorable past two years of South Johnston High School athletics. Now he’ll get a chance to lead the entire Trojans’ athletic department.

Jenks was named the South Johnston athletic director this week.

“I’m looking forward to working with the student-athletes from every sport at South Johnston, not just the ones I coach,” Jenks said.

He admits being an athletic administrator wasn’t something he’d thought about much until this spring. Jenks replaces the departing Keith Durham as athletic director.

He will continue to lead the South football program, which won a share of the Two Rivers 3A Conference championship last season and that will return the bulk of its lineup this fall.

“It’s going to be a balancing act, especially having a family with two young daughters,” Jenks said. “But I’m confident that with support from them I be able to put the processes into place that allows me to manage it all effectively.”

Jenks and his wife, Betsy, are the parents of three-year-old Ava and five-month-old Claire. He is a graduate of Wake Forest High School where he was a four-sport letterman, and played football at Elon University.

“The key to continuing our success is keeping the student-athlete first in our thought process,” Jenks said. “We’ve done a great job of working together as a staff to make sure kids who want to play multiple sports can participate fully in all of the sports they want to play.”

He wants to get more student-athletes in the weight room and thinks the new grading system makes it easier for athletes to take a weight training class.

“The ideal student-athlete is first someone who’s in good academic standing,” Jenks said. “Our student-athletes have done a commendable job in the classroom. I think 75- to 80-percent of our athletes last year were honor roll students.

“It’s all about developing good productive members of our community, young people who reach out in their community and are committed to improving themselves in all aspects.”

Jenks takes over an athletic program that is fully stocked with head coaches, a rarity in these days. Aaron Parnell, who served as interim head baseball coach this season, will be the only new head coach of a Trojan program when the 2015-16 school year begins.

“Mr. Jenks brings a devotion to the student-athlete and a passion to build winning athletic programs,” said new David Pearce, who will become principal at South Johnston High School on July 1. “I am confident that Mr. Jenks will lead the Trojan athletic program to the next level.”

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