Local Sports Journal

Muskegon Heights Public School Academy has named Jimmy Purnell as the head football coach for its upcoming varsity season.

Purnell has been leading conditioning practices for Tiger football players this summer while the administration had been in search to fill the position’s vacancy after Tony Blankenship’s departure.

“I was contemplating should I put my name in the hat,” said Purnell, who is a 1985 Muskegon Heights graduate and former football player under current athletic director Glen Metcalf. “I started off joking about the job. I said, ‘coach, if you can’t find someone for the job, I’ll do it.'”

Purnell is not a new face on the Tigers’ football field. He has been involved in the program since 2006 when he started coaching at the middle school level.

“One town, one team, one dream, is our motto,” said Purnell. “My goal is to try to keep these kids off the street and to show them there is more to life.

“Right now, a lot of these kids don’t know they have a future and my goal is to teach them they have a say in how their life can be,” said Purnell.

The Tigers do have a full schedule booked with four home games, but Week 3 is up in the air with Saginaw Buena Vista closing.

Getting the Tiger community involved is important to Purnell and he will be looking to attract alumni back into the community.

“I want to build relationships with alumni, I want to build the relationship up with the old alumni. If you graduated from the Heights, you are a Tiger and it don’t matter if you’re white or black.”

Purnell loves winning, but he knows his ultimate goal is to help Tiger athletes graduate and go on to college.

“I love winning, but if I can get these kids to walk across the stage and get a diploma, I’ll have reached my real goal.”