Home Sports Local Sports Dexter athletic director: 34 years, a career so brief

Dexter athletic director: 34 years, a career so brief

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Dexter Athletic Director Dave Campbell (Daily Record File Photo)

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Sssh! Don’t tell Dexter Athletic Director Dave Campbell that 34 years have gone by in the blink of an eye. Campbell said he would know when it’s time, and for him it’s time. As he wrote his retirement letter, the memories and tears flooded his eyes. As he writes, Dexter is a place where he has lost games as a head football coach, won a football championship, lost weight, and made great friends that felt like family. By the way, he married a wife and gained a family.

Since ‘87, this has been home and better weather than his beloved Ohio. One of Campbell’s proudest moments as a coach is not what many people think of when he hoisted the blue trophy as a football coach. For him, it was about the lives he influenced as his former players: Chris Martinez and Arturo Duran among others, became successful coaches. Duran won the blue trophy in his first year as a football coach in 2019.

“I just want to thank the community, the kids, and all the athletes,” Campbell said. “When I came to Dexter, I just started off as a health teacher and middle school girls’ coach. I coached seventh and eighth grade volleyball and basketball my first year.”

It seems like yesterday the burly, gentle giant from Ontario, Ohio, paced the sideline for the Demons. Campbell talked to his seniors and managed to pull his team together after losing their first game to Santa Rosa. As the clock ticked down in ‘97, he said he had a tremendous feeling he had never felt before.

“That was awesome winning the state title,” Campbell said. “I was lucky, I was in the right place at the right time. I had a great group of seniors and juniors and a couple of key underclassmen. It was one of those things where it clicked. I had coach Wes Johnson as my defensive coordinator.”

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Campbell said he is proud that he coached Dexter to their first state championship in the school’s history. He also said he remembers the win in district win over Eunice the following year was special.

Campbell coached football for six years and then took a couple of years off to get a master’s degree in educational administration and got the AD job in 2005. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Ohio Northern University in health and physical education with a minor in biology.

As he prepares to retire, he remembers former Dexter head coach Gerald Burns being a mentor for him in football. He said it was Burns that gave him his first job in football. Both men always talked strategy and were drawing up plays.

Former Dexter athletic director John Reid took time to mentor Campbell as a young teacher and coach. Campbell was the last coach Reid hired at Dexter before passing away in 2008.

One of the defining moments in his career at Dexter was when Pat Parsons, the elementary principal told him when he was offered the athletic director’s job. Campbell told Parsons that he didn’t know if he could teach and go to school to get his master’s at the same time while being an athletic director.

Parsons told him when that door opens, sometimes that door doesn’t open again. Parsons told him he needed to take it and that he had confidence in him. Campbell said he has never regretted being the Dexter athletic director for the last 15 years.

“She was the one who convinced me to do it,” Campbell said. “I haven’t regretted it at all. As an athletic director, I supported my coaches 100% and the kids. I became more of a mentor to the coaches. As an athletic director, I would never fire a coach for wins or losses. I would fire them if they weren’t good for the kids.”

Campbell spends mornings at Dexter Elementary School teaching physical education to kindergarten and first grade students.

He says he shares a special bond and feeling for current Dexter football coach, Arturo Duran. Campbell has known Duran since the seventh grade. Duran was his starting quarterback on his championship team. Campbell considers Duran the best hire he ever made.

“I knew he was a good kid,” said Campbell. “I didn’t know at the time he wanted to go into coaching. I knew he was a heck of a good athlete. One of the better athletes we’ve had around here. I had no idea he wanted to get into coaching.”

“He (Dave Campbell) was a good coach,” Arturo Duran said, “a good athletic director, but best of all a good friend.”

One of the things that has weighed on Campbell is the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that we’re coming up on a month that it will be a year since it has affected kids involved in extracurricular activities.

“It is frustrating for the ADs and coaches,” he said. “It is frustrating for the parents and kids. I hope if we do get to come back soon that at least the parents can see their kids play live. We have a contingency plan, we’re going to — we have an account that’s a huddle account and we are going to YouTube as many games as we can live and let our community watch it for free.”

Campbell said COVID-19 is something new. He says it is frustrating that states next to New Mexico are participating while New Mexico is not, and that has left him wondering what to tell kids, who are asking why they can’t play.

If New Mexico is allowed to play sports, Campbell said he will be there to the end, even if the sports season ends in June.

He and his wife, Jennifer, have been married for eight years and will relocate to Phoenix, Arizona. He plans to relax and take life as it comes. He may sub or learn to golf but has not ruled out coaching again.

“I’m going to miss Dexter,” Campbell said. “I got choked up reading my retirement letter to my wife. It’s home and has been half of my life. I will miss the kids. I hope everyone knows, I put the kids first, it was never about me. I loved seeing the kids succeed.”

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.