WAXAHACHIE — Waxahachie ISD unanimously approved the hire of Edrian "E.J." Hairston for its director of sports medicine position during a school board meeting on June 26.

The hire comes after a five-month absence at the position.

"E.J. possesses all of the qualities we were searching for in our new director of sports medicine," WISD Athletic Director Greg Reed said. "He is confident, rich in knowledge and experience and a great communicator. Adding him to the mix with our current assistant athletic trainers Nikki Furgerson and Alex Vega will bolster the quality of care students receive and peace of mind that parents and coaches want."

WISD's new hire spent eight years as an associate athletic trainer and associate director at the University of North Texa, handling the daily operations of the athletic training room and working with men's basketball and golf programs. He also assisted in football operations.

Hairston, a Lexington, N.C. native, spent five years as a graduate assistant at North Carolina State University and worked two years each at Stetson University (Fla.) and Western Carolina University. He helped manage operations for soccer, basketball and strength and conditioning as an associate athletic trainer at both locations before accepting the position at North Texas.

He said meeting his wife, a Houston native and an athletic trainer at Texas Christian University, was what brought him to the Lone Star State and Waxahachie's doorstep.

"It was my wife, Valerie (Tinklepaugh-Hairston). Yeah, I moved here for a girl," Hairston said. "She had the [athletic trainer] position my last year at Stetson before she took the job at TCU and when I came to visit her in Houston, I said to myself 'I've got to get out here.'"

He said he didn't think he'd land a position in Texas after his first attempt to break into the high school circuit.

"I applied to every high school in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and never got a callback," Hairston said. "I couldn't understand how I could be a NCAA Division I athletic trainer and a high school wouldn't give me a look. It so happened the UNT men's basketball position came open and they offered me the job that day. It worked out. God must have been looking out for me."

He said Waxahachie, eight years later, offered him a chance to grow a program of his own. That possibility, as well as a nudge from a friend that works in the high school field, was what prompted him to swap an eagle for an Indian "W" and keep the green and white backdrop in tact.

"He thought it would be a good look for me because he knew that I knew what I wanted. I had spent the last five years as an associate director at UNT. While I knew which direction I wanted to go in, I wasn't in a position to put myself there. When the [Waxahachie] position opened, I was a little reluctant because I didn't know anything about high school. I'd tried that before and it didn't work out. It intrigued me, though, because I had done everything I could do at North Texas and wanted the challenge.

"When I came up here for my interview and drove onto the campus, I knew I was ready to be here. Before they even offered me a position, I knew I'd take it if they did. It immediately felt comfortable here."

Hairston will oversee and manage all athletic training within WISD — from Waxahachie High School to Finley and Howard Junior High Schools.

He replaces former 22-year athletic trainer David "Doc" Bowdoin, who began his tenure at WISD in 1995 and served as the head athletic trainer and director of sports medicine for Indian and Lady Indian athletics. He submitted his resignation to district officials on March 23.

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Marcus S. Marion, @MarcusMarionWNI

(469) 517-1456