In June, Jeff Peeler, Lincoln’s longtime athletic director, left his fond Cardinal memories behind to become assistant athletic director of all of Portland Public Schools. Now, a Lincoln alumna with high hopes and high spirits has come to take the place of her old basketball coach.
Peeler began at Lincoln in 2002 and although he is sad to leave it behind, he is excited for the future that is laid out in front of him.
Jessica Russell graduated from Lincoln in 2005. She played basketball under Peeler along with two other sports. She then went on to get her undergraduate and graduate degrees for teaching from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.
Since she graduated from school, she has been teaching sixth grade language arts and social sciences along with Advancement Via Individual Determination at Sellwood Middle School. Teaching appealed to Russell because she loves helping people learn and grow, but teaching isn’t the only thing she fell in love with.
Russell started coaching shortly after she began to teach. She said in an email to parents, “it was awesome to see my students succeed outside of the classroom and I was able to form stronger connections with those students and their families.” Before long, she was coaching or organizing a sport every season.
Russell has kept in contact with Peeler and, when she heard the job at Lincoln was open, she applied for it. Peyton Chapman says, “she is a strong teacher, leader, and a dedicated coach. This position allowed her to combine her love for athletics, her commitment to supporting students, and her willingness to be a school-wide leader outside of the classroom. I could see her becoming a school principal one day and this will be good training,”
Chapman also says that “we hired the best applicant and we are thrilled she happened to be a Cardinal alum with strong ties to Lincoln.”
Although Russell believes that Sellwood Middle School is a great place to teach and coach, she “cannot wait to work with students and their families to continue the tradition of academic and athletic excellence at Lincoln.”
“Jessica brings a knowledge of Lincoln and its community. She is very organized and diligent. She was a three sport athlete at Lincoln and exceptional student,” Peeler says.
Being the exceptional student Peeler says she is, he believes Russell is able and willing to exceed the standards people have set for her to help her old high school.
Russell hopes to continue the excellent athletics program that Peeler helped to build.
“I understand the power of the Lincoln community. The coaches and teachers are top-notch and highly motivated to succeed,” Russell said in the email.
Outside of coaching and teaching, Russell loves trying out new sports or workouts, getting outside, traveling, cooking, and reading. She also likes to rock climb, golf, and go on backpacking trips. She has already been on several in Oregon and Washington and will most likely do more.
One of her favorite experiences was when she and another LHS graduate went to Thailand last spring break. They backpacked through the mountains, visited temples, and took a cooking class.
But, even after her exotic experiences, Russell says she “looks forward to meeting people in the Cardinal community and learning more about you all.”
Peeler, on the other hand, will remember everyone that he has met during his 14 years at Lincoln. From Lincoln football defeating Lake Oswego at Providence Park in the 2005 State Semi-Finals to girls soccer quarterfinal win at Jesuit in penalty kicks, Peeler has made many memories and many friends in the LHS community.
“My favorite things about LHS are the students, the community and the principal. All three are competitive, highly intelligent and amazingly supportive,” Peeler says. “I will miss getting to know the students and athletes at Lincoln the most. Without question, they have been the most enjoyable part of a very time consuming job.”