Longtime Fixture Purvis Tackles New Role
If the professional career and life of Bobby Purvis were a recipe for success, it would include countless ingredients, including teacher, coach, leader, mentor and community cheerleader.
Combined with generous amounts of initiative, selflessness and a “get ’er done” attitude, that recipe would be a blue-ribbon prize winner anywhere.
But the longtime fixture at Union Pines High School, now in his second year as athletic director, would probably ease past the personal accolades, with the self-proclaimed “project guy” moving on to his next undertaking.
With recurring budget woes keeping school administrators on their toes, Purvis finds himself in a job, overseeing 21 team sports, that requires a 24/7 mentality, while wearing many hats.
Whether mowing athletic fields, scheduling buses for the high school and two middle schools, taking care of the facilities, scheduling athletic events, making a beautification project around a flag pole, or greeting outside contractors, Purvis carries a level of immense pride associated with someone who has given over 30 years of his life to Union Pines.
Two years ago, the former teacher and coach characteristically stepped up to the plate when encouraged to assume the role of AD.
“I’m always going to be a teacher and coach,” he said recently, “but I’ve always preached loyalty and commitment, which are very important things in my life. Based on that, I thought it was the right thing for the school when I was asked to change directions.
“I felt a need to give something back to the school and this wonderful community. I’m a lucky guy to have this opportunity.”
‘Loves Union Pines’
Union Pines Principal Robin Lea clearly feels that she is the lucky one.
“Union Pines couldn’t function without Bobby Purvis. He is our biggest fan, strongest supporter and our student-athletes’ leading advocate,” she acknowledged. “Bobby always gives 200 percent of himself to Union Pines.”
Head basketball coach Nick Boney, who replaced Purvis, calls him a mentor.
“He’s just a good person to talk to, not just about basketball, but about teaching and life situations in general,” said Boney. “You can tell he loves Union Pines.”
Even for a North Moore graduate, who has degrees from Sandhills Community College and Appalachian State University, taking a civics and economics teaching job at Union Pines wasn’t a tough decision. That’s where the “200 percent” eventually came in, as he grew to love and appreciate the solid community assistance over many years while coaching girls’ and boys’ basketball before assuming his multi-faceted AD responsibilities.
“I am so impressed with the willingness of people to help out and support us in our local community,” Purvis enthused. “Yes, they come to our games, but way beyond that, they’re willing to be part of a project, of fundraising, and the booster club. They are very good.
“There are a lot of great communities, with great schools and people, but as I’ve changed roles in life, my ability to see those things is greater. At the end of the day, I feel very fortunate to be a very small part of this.”
Purvis’ duties are ever-changing because high school sports are in the forefront of safety and health issues: NCAA compliance for student-athletes, coaches and parents; the four-year conference realignment proposal; and staying current on campus facilities to ensure the ongoing safety of students and visitors alike.
“These student athletes are somebody else’s kids, and a family entrusts us to not only coach their children, but to keep them safe,” he pointed out. “It is my responsibility to have safe equipment, safe facilities and a safe campus environment.”
Compliance regulations are updated and ongoing, including sending football helmets out to be refurbished to meet standards and updating coaches on any new rules, along with the volumes of paperwork associated with each rule and athlete.
His coaches value his involvement and dedication on their behalf, supporting them at both home and away games. Union Pines volleyball coach and alumni Leslie Fish appreciates Purvis’ dedication and knowing that she can depend on him for support, guidance and encouraging words.
“He values all sports, not just the ones he likes best,” she smiled. “He attends every game he can, home or away, no matter how far away it is. It is so important to the coaches to know that he’s there to support and represent Union Pines.”
His “project list” is long, but there are a few that are in the “completed” category.
“We have redone the field and bleachers at the athletic field, put in new and much-needed lights at the baseball field, and entirely refurbished the weight room,” the athletic director added with pride, “and batting cages are next on the list, as well as a new baseball scoreboard.”
Earning a spot on his personal “wish list” would be an auxiliary gym and surprisingly, but understandably, an enhanced irrigation system which would protect the investment that the school, booster club and community has made to upgrade the facility.
“Spending the money to improve our fields is important, but we have to protect our investment,” he noted. “We need the rain, but the further expense is for a long-term maintenance plan.”
In his “spare” time, Purvis meets regularly with the other athletic directors in the Cape Fear Valley (3-A) Conference in his role as their president, a key leadership position, especially with conference realignment appearing on the horizon. Six years ago, Purvis was instrumental in developing the Union Pines Hall of Fame and serves as its chairman and banquet planner. This year, however, his role will be that of “inductee,” as he will be honored with five others.
Lea counts Purvis as one of Union Pines’ biggest blessings.
“He is so much more than our athletic director,” she summed up. “We are so fortunate that he has Viking Blue running through his veins.”
As he reflected on his extended days and successes, it was clear there was a sense of deep satisfaction about what has been accomplished at Union Pines.
“We have a good thing here. But it is never about who the AD is because one of the most important parts of my job is to make sure that every Viking student-athlete knows that there are few things in this stage of their life quite like being a part of a team,” he reflected. “There are few things that teach the next level of life for them, as well as learning success, failure, honesty and values like this.
“I do know that.”
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