Being a high school athletic director can become a 24/7 job, between coordinating the different sports programs, helping finalize schedules, purchasing equipment, even down to making sure the field lines are down right and the support crew is on hand to cover each home contest.
When DeSoto Central High School athletic director Jeff Walls finally gets some free time, he likes to head out into the great outdoors with his gun or bow, or maybe a fishing rod, depending on his particular destination. His girls usually head out with him to the deer stand, as well, covered with camouflage paint.
Now, there is one added item that has become a requirement for each trip: a camera and video recording equipment.
That item is used to help film and record each excursion as a field representative of Southern Life Outdoors, LLC. Founded by Saltillo baseball coach Eric Reynolds with representatives spread out across the region, the purpose of Southern Life Outdoors is to promote the outdoor life and encourage future generations to become interested in it.
“It’s about your average guy who has a regular job and enjoys the outdoors in their free time,” Reynolds said. “We want to share that with others through video, photos and things like that. Our main goal and focus is to take our love and passion for the outdoors and pass it on to the next generation.”
For Walls, who was an assistant baseball coach under Mark Monaghan before taking on the athletic administration duties at DeSoto Central, it was through his baseball coaching connections that he first learned about Southern Life Outdoors. He applied and was added to the staff that offers film clips and photos for Reynolds to turn into promotional programs.
“It’s not like I’m getting up and going to work,” Walls said. “I don’t get paid for this and I don’t expect to get paid for this. I’m just there to help Eric get going and share what I’ve been doing all my life with everybody else.”
Reynolds, also an instructor at Saltillo High School, said the idea for Southern Life Outdoors came from an economics lesson he was presenting to his students.
“I was teaching economics and I came up with an idea for my students to put together their own business plan and an outline of their business,” Reynolds said. “I came up with a business plan to use as an example and I thought, ‘why not pursue this?’ That is how it began.”
Walls now approaches each outdoors trip a little differently.
“It’s changed my hunting set up now because when I go hunting, I’ve got to pack my camera and I’ve got a Go Pro that’s mounted on my bow,” Walls said. “I’ve got to think about lighting and the shots in between. We’re trying to get footage and clips together so that Eric can take them and put them into a production or show.”
It also means Walls’ children can become “co-stars” in the filming, something he says they welcome, down to the makeup.
“Now that my kids are old enough to where they want to go sit with me, it’s a whole new ball game from when I grew up,” said Walls. “My little girls like to do the camouflage face paint. We’ll go paint on the camouflage and sit in the deer stand and they get to watch the deer come out.”
Walls, introduced to the outdoors by an uncle as he grew up outside Batesville, said he now looks forward to getting away when he can and reconnecting with nature.
“When I was coaching, I could still get outside for a half-day,” he said. “Now, when I can get outside for the weekend, I try to stay out there as long as possible. Just to get out and get away to the sounds of silence is music.”
Find out more about Southern Life Outdoors on Facebook by searching “Southern Life Outdoors LLC,” or visit the website, www.southernlifeoutdoors.com.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor and may be reached at 662-429-6397, ext. 240.