Excelsior Citizen

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Citizen Spotlight: Jesse Hall

Last Updated on January 23, 2023 by Courtney Cole

 “A good leader steps to the front when things are going tough. When things are going great they step to the back and let others shine,” said Jesse speaking of a fellow community leader, but he could have just as easily been describing himself. (photo Courtney Cole).

There aren’t many people who can match the care and compassion that Jesse Hall has for the citizens of Excelsior Springs. Coach Hall’s mission to improve the lives of young people in the community and his dedication to service has put him at the center of many transformational projects over the past 40+ years. Humble as always, he credits those around him for the successes he’s been a part of. “I’ve been very lucky… I’ve surrounded myself with good people, and good things have happened. I just got out of their way and let them do their job,” he smiled.

Jesse has a unique way of bringing people together. He gets to know them and finds out their strengths and their passions and then he teams them up with sometimes unlikely partners to tackle a job that may seem impossible to others. Much of Jesse’s leadership comes through the respect he gives and receives, working with individuals who may have differences of opinion, but ultimately have the same goal of improving the community.

Mutual respect is just one of the many lessons Jesse learned from his early mentor Donna Williams. Jesse taught side-by-side with Williams at what was then, Lewis Middle School. “She taught me how to be fair. She taught me how to listen. She taught me not to judge somebody because somebody else told me that they are a ‘bad kid.’” Jesse said Williams was firm but fair and had a mentality of ‘I’m not better than anyone else’ a belief that he carries with him still.

Jesse, 3rd from left, proudly leads his Tiger softball team off the field after another win in 1993 (photo submitted Kim Pyles).

Jesse has always been known as a great team player. Donnie Roberts, former principal, and Career Center Director recalled, “we grew up in our professional careers together, we came to Excelsior springs the same year as new teachers… Our relationship just flourished, and we became friends immediately… I could always lean on him. He was always honest with me whether he thought I was right or wrong.” Jesse’s care, compassion, and respect for students and colleagues are what allowed him to advance his career from teacher, to coach, and eventually to a leadership role as Athletic Director. Joe Greim, the current Excelsior Springs Athletic Director said, “[Jesse] is a great friend to not only me but also to Excelsior Springs. I cannot imagine another person who has fought for and given so much to our kids and community.”

Jesse grew up in Liberty during the days of ‘dueling pistols’ and high rivalry games between the Blue Jays and Tigers. “I had a college coach, Dr. Patterson, who used to be a football coach, in Excelsior years ago, a very legendary man, he asked me to apply for a job over here… and I couldn’t tell him no,” Jesse laughed. The former Liberty Blue Jay has certainly earned his Tiger stripes. A legendary coach and athletic director in his own right, Jesse used sports as a way to connect kids with their peers and boost their confidence.

I’ve watched a lot of wins and I’ve watched a lot of losses,” he reflected, “I’ve had some great, great, great kids. I’ve attended many weddings and sadly I’ve spoken at some funerals.” Jesse said he loved to help kids who hadn’t been given a lot of opportunities make the most of themselves. His goal was to help them look past what was wrong in their lives and try to focus on what was right. Ryan Fluesmeier grew up in Jesse’s neighborhood and experienced Jesse’s care firsthand, “If it’s good for the kids of Excelsior, and it’s good for the city of Excelsior, you know, Jesse will be fully on board. He’ll do whatever it takes to help our city. He’s one of the few, but he really will do anything for our town.”

“Coach Hall…where do I start with this man? From my first step on that dirt field to 28 years later when he gave me the biggest hug, I have always felt the love in his heart. I’ve had a lot of coaches and mentors in my life but Jesse Hall is at the top of that list! Love you, Coach.” – Kim Pyles #22 (photo submitted Kim Pyles).

Jesse is the definition of a
selfless leader. He never wants credit but will always shoulder the blame and look for ways to make things better. He builds people up and utilizes those relationships to make progress. Truly a blessing to Excelsior Springs. – Terri Irons

Watching ‘his kids’ walk across the stage, beginning their lives full of possibility is one of the things Jesse said he misses most about working at the schools. Together, he and his wife Susan (a spotlight for another day) impacted the lives of thousands of young people. Seeing students go out into the world and excel is one thing, but seeing them return to help improve the community of Excelsior Springs brings Jesse special joy. “I’ve got two former students, Christen [Everett] and Mark [Bullimore] who will both be at Central Office next year, and I was able to work with both of those kids and watch them grow,” he beamed. Jesse said he’s seeing more and more young people staying or returning to Excelsior Springs working to improve the community. “They were given an opportunity and they chose to stay and make this place better,” said Jesse.

As opportunities arose Jesse helped to put people into place, stimulating big projects throughout the community. Whether it was the construction of Miracle Field, working to establish the Excelsior Springs Athletic Hall of Fame, or helping to launch the Community Center, he’s been there quietly pushing the wheel of progress forward. Former NFL coach and Missouri Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Gregg Williams said, “When we started the Excelsior Springs Sports Hall of Fame, it came from Jesse… But, what people don’t realize is how important that was in linking the past athletes in the community with the new ones. It gave younger athletes something to shoot for as a goal and brought the community together.”

Jesse proudly gave a tour and update on the new Community Center outdoor pool coming later this year (photo Courtney Cole).

Jesse said he’s been lucky to work with some great leaders in the community, who have helped uncover and take advantage of opportunities. He joined the staff of the Community Center as a favor to longtime friend and City Manager, Molly McGovern for what was supposed to be a 3-month stint as ‘acting director.’ Now, 6 years later, he’s stepped down as director but he’s still onboard, overseeing Phase 2 of the Community Center expansion and the addition of an outdoor pool. He says one of his new goals is to ensure every student of Excelsior Springs schools knows how to swim by the end of 3rd grade. “He truly is a sucker for kids and has always made decisions based on what’s best for them. In regards to kids, if asked the question why or how we would do something; school facilities, community center, new pool… his answer is always ‘how can we not?'” said Greim.

Jesse Hall took me under his wing as a freshman softball player. He was and still is a father figure to me. He was the one who would listen to what I was needing and then tell me what I needed to do to fix it whether it was on the ball field, in the classroom, or in life. He would also tell you what you did wrong. He is a cheerleader for all sports, a friend, and a great coach. I remember being little and watching high school softball and wanting to play for those coaches. I was lucky enough to get to play for him for a year but even luckier to still have him in my life as a friend. – Leslea Williams McKillip ’00

When there’s a child in need Jesse always seems to find a way to help. He said over the years a “Band of Brothers (and Sisters)” has emerged in Excelsior Springs. A group of selfless individuals who he knows he can count on when there is a worthy cause. ” I can go to anybody in that group, at any given minute and if I tell them I have a kid in need they’ll step up to help,” he said. “Ever since I’ve known Jesse, everything, and every decision I’ve seen him make was for the betterment of somebody else… as a teacher, as an administrator, whatever he’s done is he’s always looked out for the good of others,” said Coach Williams.

Jesse said he’d like to see more people putting aside their differences and working to find common ground, looking past ‘what’s wrong’ and looking for ‘what’s right’ in the community. Building on our success rather than tearing each other down. Unity is the factor that allows opportunities to flourish Jesse said. “We’re not always going to agree. But just because we disagree on one thing doesn’t mean that we can’t work together on something else,” he concluded.

Susan and Jesse Hall (photo submitted Susan Hall).

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