Matt Hiatt, Joplin Schools' former middle school athletics director, has been the full-time athletic director at Joplin High School for nearly a month now.

And on Tuesday the Joplin R-8 Board of Education approved the hiring of Hiatt's replacement.

Jacob Williams will assume the role of Joplin middle schools athletics director, it was announced Thursday afternoon in a press release.

Williams, who has spent seven years working primarily at North and East middle schools as a physical education teacher and a utility coach, was one of five candidates interviewed, Hiatt told the Globe on Thursday night.

“There’s going to be a learning curve, as there would be with anybody stepping into an athletic director role for the first time, but I want (Williams) to be the face of middle school athletics in Joplin,” Hiatt said. “He’s familiar with several of our programs. He’s the first guy to do whatever you ask him to do. He goes the extra mile.”

In his new role, Williams will oversee the intramural programs at all Joplin schools, which is set to expand with the topic of combining the three middle schools’ athletic programs. The district is combining the girls and boys basketball programs across all three Joplin middle schools in the upcoming school year.

“I’m extremely excited,” Williams said. “It’s a pretty crucial time at the middle school level with the cooperative agreement going into effect next year with the pilot programs with basketball. But I’m excited for the opportunity to help where I can with the coaches and the kids, and let’s see if we can’t get this thing off on the right foot.”

When asked how he stood out in the interview process, Williams had a pointed answer.

“I’ve coached anything that came down my way since I started my career here in Joplin,” he said. “I spent a lot of time at the middle school level as a head coach for four different sports, and I think that helped me a lot.”

A native of Chanute, Kansas, Williams has coached basketball for seven seasons, track and field for six, volleyball for four and cross country for two. He was a physical education teacher last year at Joplin High School.

Williams credited veteran coaches who he's been around in his time in Joplin.

“I'm up for the task,” he said. “Just being around those guys in leadership positions, intelligent people in the district, listening to what they want, how they operate, and put that in some of my own philosophies and what a leadership position should look like.”

Williams, who has an education degree from Missouri Southern, is pursuing his master’s in educational leadership from William Woods University.

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