June 25, 2010
IHSAA COMMISSIONER BLAKE RESS ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT
William Blake Ress, commissioner of the Indiana High School Athletic Association, Inc. since 2000, announced to the IHSAA Executive Committee his intention to retire effective February 1, 2011. Ress’ announcement came on Thursday as part of the group’s final meeting of the 2009-10 school year.
Ress, 68, began his tenure as the IHSAA’s seventh commissioner on July 1, 2000 succeeding Bob Gardner (1995-2000). Other former IHSAA commissioners include: C. Eugene Cato (1983-1995), Ward E. Brown (1976-1983), Phil N. Eskew (1962-1976), L.V. Phillips (1945-1962) and Arthur L. Trester (1929-1945).
During his time as leader, his vision toward emerging technologies has been key, including the IHSAA.org website as a communication tool with the member schools and the general public. He’s worked to promote the IHSAA brand, various sportsmanship initiatives and embraced corporate sponsorships when expenses to the Association escalated. He’s also overseen the evolution of various state tournaments since the beginning of class sports in 1997-98. On June 17, he was inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame.
“Blake Ress has been visionary in his leadership of the IHSAA while staying true to the core mission of the Association,” says Paul Neidig, Director of Athletics of Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation and chairman of the IHSAA Executive Committee. “The thing I most admire about Blake is his ability to make the tough decisions while not alienating people or the member schools along the way. On behalf of the IHSAA Executive Committee, I would like to wish Blake Ress the best of luck in his retirement.”
“I am genuinely appreciative for having had the opportunity to serve in this capacity for the past 10 years,” says Ress. “I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and will treasure the memories.”
While his responsibilities as commissioner began a decade ago, Ress’ relationship with the IHSAA spans most of his adult life.
Ress was first elected to the IHSAA Board of Directors in 1990 while principal at Martinsville High School and served as chairman of the IHSAA Executive Committee in 1993-94. He was in his second term on the Board when he was selected to join the IHSAA Executive Staff as an assistant commissioner in January 1995.
While an assistant commissioner, Ress was responsible for the administration of football, wrestling, boys and girls swimming and diving, and girls softball.
A native of Tell City, Ind., Ress is a 1960 graduate of Tell City High School and a 1964 graduate of Butler University. During his career in education he has served as a coach in football, basketball and swimming, as a game official in basketball, baseball and swimming and diving, as an athletic director, and as a high school principal.
Ress began his career as an educator in 1964 as a biology teacher and coach at Northside Junior High School in Columbus. He served as the assistant boys swimming coach at Columbus High School from 1964 to 1968, and was on the coaching staff when Columbus High School won the 1965 IHSAA Boys Swimming state title. He also served as the freshman football coach at Northside Junior High School in Columbus for four seasons and as a basketball assistant coach for two seasons.
From Columbus, he moved to Shelbyville High School where he was an assistant football coach for six seasons and the boys varsity swimming coach from 1970-73. In the fall of 1974, he was named assistant principal and athletic director at Shelbyville High School and served in that post for 11 years before becoming principal at Cloverdale High School. Ress served one year as principal at Cloverdale before moving to Martinsville High School in the same role in the fall of 1986. He served as principal at Martinsville for 8 1/2 years before joining the IHSAA staff.
Ress began his IHSAA officiating career in basketball as a student at Butler University. While coaching at Columbus and Shelbyville, he added football, swimming, track and field, and baseball to his officiating assignments. Ress worked six IHSAA basketball sectional tournaments during that time, and also earned tournament assignments in swimming and baseball. His officiating career was highlighted by his selection to umpire the IHSAA Baseball State Finals in 1973. He also was president of the Southeastern Indiana Officials Association in 1973 and 1974, and served as a baseball rules interpreter from 1970-74.
Professionally, Ress also served as president of the South Central Conference (1990-91), as meet director of the IHSAA Girls Swimming and Diving State Finals (1987-94), as assistant meet director of the IHSAA Wrestling State Finals (1984-94), as a member of the board of directors of the Indiana Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (1980-85), and as the executive secretary and publicity director of the South Central Conference (1982-85).
Ress was honored as the Midwest Athletic Director of the Year in 1986 by the National Council of Athletic Directors. He was chosen as the Indiana Athletic Director of the Year in 1981 and again in 1985 by the National Council of Athletic Directors. In 1992, he was honored as the District 9 Principal of the Year by the Indiana Association of School Principals.
As a student at Tell City High School, Ress participated in football, basketball and baseball. In basketball, his coach was Indiana Basketball Hall of Famer Orlando (Gunner) Wyman. Ress was a member of Tell City's Evansville Semi-State team in 1959.
In addition to his B.S. degree in education from Butler University, Ress earned an M.S. in secondary education from Indiana University (1967), and an Education Specialist from Butler (1982).
Ress and his wife of 46 years, Linda, a retired career educator and Tell City graduate, reside in Noblesville. They are the proud parents of three adult children, Brian Ress, Lisa Leszczewski and Amy Jordan, and four grandchildren, Emily Leszczewski and Sam, Nora and Sarah Jordan.
The Executive Committee, which will select the next commissioner, announced that an internal search for a candidate to succeed Ress would begin immediately.
BLAKE RESS AT A GLANCE
William Blake Ress.
November 20, 1941 at Tell City, Ind.
Tell City High School, 1960.
Butler University (B.S., Education and Biology), 1964.
Indiana University (M.S., Secondary Education), 1966.
Butler University (Ed.S., Educational Administration), 1982.
Wife: Linda; Children: Brian Ress, Lisa Leszczewski, Amy Jordan. Grandchildren: Emily Leszczewski, Sam, Nora and Sarah Jordan.
Northside Junior H.S., Columbus, 1964-68: biology teacher, freshman football coach, assistant boys basketball coach, assistant boys swimming coach (at Columbus High School).
Shelbyville High School, 1968-1974: biology teacher, varsity assistant football coach, boys varsity swimming coach.
Shelbyville High School, 1974-85: assistant principal and athletic director.
Cloverdale High School, 1985-86: principal.
Martinsville High School, 1986-95: principal; IHSAA Board of Directors and Executive Committee, 1991-1995.
Indiana High School Athletic Association, assistant commissioner, 1995-2000.
Indiana High School Athletic Association, commissioner, 2000-present.