Chris Meliah has never backed down from life’s challenges — as an educator, coach or player.

In less than a month, Meliah will assume the role of a Teacher on Special Assignment — and take over as athletic director at McLoughlin High School.

“I’m excited to take on a new role,” Meliah said. “Immediately, your mind is telling you ‘What have I gotten myself into?’ It sounded appealing. I’m excited to give it a shot and do the best job I can to be a positive representative for the Milton-Freewater School District, Mac-Hi, and the community.

“I want to help our coaches build programs based on the visions they have,” Meliah said. “I want to make the athlete experience as positive as possible in a family-style atmosphere. Building relationships with kids broadens relationship building.”

Meliah’s interest in an administrative-type post took wing when he first arrived on the Mac-Hi campus to educate in the late 1990s and witnessed Kreg Wishard at the helm.

“I thought it would be interesting to run the athletic portion of a high school,” he said. “I saw it as a way to keep a hand in both academics and athletics. I love the organization part that it takes. It appealed to me. I’ve always had an interest in that combination.”

Meliah is a veteran educator with two-plus decades of experience. He was at Mac-Hi for the first 20 years of his education career.

After two years of helping with the day-to-day operations of Walla Walla Community College’s pre-college math department, and one year at Walla Walla High, he returned to Mac-Hi.

The 1988 DeSales graduate has served as both an assistant and head coach in the athletic arena. He’s been an assistant football and baseball coach at Mac-Hi, assistant baseball coach at WWCC, and assistant and head coach when Milton-Freewater boasted an American Legion baseball program.

Meliah — who achieved a four-year degree from Central Washington University — played college baseball for two seasons at Southwest Texas State, and one each at WWCC and North Idaho. The 1990 Warriors advanced to the championship game of the NWAACC Tournament.

Meliah played on a pair of Class B state title-game qualifiers at DeSales in 1986 and ‘87.

“Chris is an outstanding individual with many years of experience in education and athletics from high school to college,” incoming Mac-Hi principal Mario Uribe Saldana stated in a district-wide email. “He about lost his breath when I talked to him. He said he is ready to go and eager to learn.”

Meliah, pending school board approval, will begin his duties July 1.

Roy Elia can be reached at royelia@wwub.com.