LEXINGTON — Joe Roberts can rest easy knowing his alma mater’s athletic department is in good hands.
A 1993 Lexington graduate, Roberts announced late last month he would be resign as Lex’s athletic director to take the AD job at Princeton High School in suburban Cincinnati.
Lexington didn’t waste any time in identifying Roberts’ replacement, introducing 2008 Lex product Michael Grist as the new AD at a special board meeting earlier this week. Grist took over as Ontario’s athletic administrator last August and will finish his term at Ontario before assuming his new role at Lexington on Aug. 1.
For Roberts, who completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Cincinnati and earned a master’s degree from Xavier, the departure is bittersweet.
“I grew up here and graduated from here. Lexington will always be home,” Roberts said as he prepared for Saturday’s 46th Lexington Invitational track meet. “There was a lot of emotion, but I’m really looking forward to what lies in front of us. Princeton is a fantastic school with a strong tradition.”
Roberts got his start in athletic administration at Kings Junior High School in Kings Mills and spent four years as an athletic administrator in Kentucky before taking over as the AD at Lebanon High School. He succeeded John Harris at Lexington in 2013.
While his roots are firmly planted in Richland County, Roberts still has plenty of friends in southeastern Ohio.
“I got started down there and I still have a lot of friends down there,” Roberts said. “I have built a lot of relationships over the years.”
At Princeton, he will inherit an athletic program which offers 32 sports. By comparison, Lexington offers 22 sports.
“It will be a lot of work, but that’s OK,” Roberts said. “It’s a great chance to get out there and lead that program and those student-athletes. I’m real excited about that.”
Grist is every bit as excited for his new opportunity. He took over for Chris Miller as Ontario’s AD after Miller vacated the post to become Ontario’s head football coach.
“With Lex being home and my daughter being close to being in school, it’s something I always kind of dreamed of,” Grist said. “What’s been cool about it is, since I told the people at Ontario about my decision, they’ve been nothing but supportive and understanding.
“It’s really a reflection of the community and how this year went. There are a lot of high-character people over here.”
Before becoming an administrator, Grist taught fourth grade in the Ontario district for six years. He also was a junior varsity basketball coach at Lexington from 2012 to 2016, working closely with Roberts.
“I’ve known Joe from when I coached at Lex,” Grist said. “He’s the gold standard of ADs, at least in this area and maybe even in the state. To have him as a resource is fantastic.
“The framework has been in place there and I have a ton of respect for the way he has organized and led that program. I’m excited for my turn to give back to the community and hopefully lead the athletes and coaches to continued success.”