It’s common to see Felten roaming around the softball and baseball fields in late April, wearing a powder blue Reed wind-breaker. Or you’d see him in early October, following the Reed soccer teams around in the onset of a chilly Reno autumn, with a smile on his face, in more Raider apparel, just bundled up a bit more than in the spring.
However, as of June 4, this sight may be a rare occurrence.
“He’s just part of Reed. You go in the school, or to an athletic event, and I expect to see Jamie there,” City of Sparks Recreation Supervisor and Reed High graduate Tony Pehle said. “Not seeing him will be different.”
Felten began his stint at Reed as a teacher in 1976. He took two years off to pursue his master’s degree before returning to Reed.
In 1999, he stepped up to become the athletic director for the Raiders. And after a decade of work, Felten will be sorely missed by his colleagues, students, the Reed administration, and many more.
“Things will change tremendously.” Reed Principal Mary Vesco said. “He’s like a ray of sunshine in the school. He always has such a positive attitude. There is no problem in athletics he can’t solve. He’ll be dearly missed as a friend, colleague, and athletic director.”
Felten announced his retirement last month, and the athletic department has already found a replacement in Ron Coombs.
“I appreciate the things he does,” Assistant Principal Al Babb said about Felten. “He will be greatly missed and his shoes will be hard to fill.”
In his early years at Reed, Felten coach junior varsity football and baseball, as well as freshman basketball.
In the late 90s, he was approached by former RHS athletic administrator Steve McKnight, who asked Felten if he would be interested in the athletic director’s job if it opened up.
Felten said he had never felt inclined to go that route, but when the opportunity presented itself, he took it.
The time commitment of the athletic director’s job has taken its toll on Felten over the years. It’s the main reason he has decided to head into retirement.
“Things have changed a lot,” Felten said. “My son is a freshman at McQueen and I miss a lot of his stuff. I can’t be in two places at one time. I owe him and my family quality time that I’ve missed with them over the years. That’s the main reason.”
Babb noted the commitment Felten’s job required, and how Felten appeared to do it with ease.
“He brings a smile, an upbeat attitude, and a thoroughness that extended well into the night, Monday through Saturday,” Babb said.
In fact, the AD gets paid just a teacher’s salary with an additional small stipend, Vesco explained.
Felten is someone who goes above and beyond what many people would expect, according to many people who work with him.
He is at events early preparing for games, helping coaches, and mostly helping out the student-athletes.
“The most rewarding thing is really having the opportunity to do things for kids that they never knew you could do for them,” Felten said. “Getting that extra pair of shoes for them or getting that uniform for them they can’t afford. Those things. Those are the really rewarding things.”
These things do not go unrecognized by those around him.
Reed Principal Mary Vesco explained how Felten recently drove to Feather River Junior College in Quincy, Calif. to pick up a hat and t-shirt for one of the students who was signing her letter of intent to attend the school.
“That’s the kind of guy he is,” Vesco said. “He always wants things to be the best … He always makes sure for every coach that everything is ready.
“I think the students will feel a sense of loss with him gone.”
Felten and Pehle have worked together on many occasions, coordinating softball schedules between Reed High School and the City of Sparks. Pehle said he has been impressed with Felten’s dedication.
“The biggest thing I see with Jamie is the heart that he put into everything he did. I dealt mainly with Jamie on the softball fields over at Shadow Mountain,” Pehle said. “He was out there an hour before every game, setting up the flags, setting up the home run fences, doing whatever he had to do to make sure the fields were ready for them to play on. Jamie was always the last one out there every night too, picking up the flags and putting away the fences.”
Pehle graduated from Reed in 1986 and had Felten as a teacher and a football coach and now has the pleasure of working with him.
“It’s been 20 something years since I graduated and now I’m not just a 14-year-old player on his team or a high school student,” Pehle said. “Now we talk on a professional level. Jamie as the athletic director has been great to work with. It’s real easy for us to call each other and make sure everything is set for their field needs and what our needs are and working together … It’s been a great relationship.”
Felten said he will take some time off from everything, and relax. The first thing he plans to do is build a model of Ebbets Field, the former Brooklyn Dodgers stadium in his garage. Then what?
“After that, I’m going to do what my wife tells me to do,” Felten said with a chuckle.
Something Felten will miss the most is the coaches he has worked with, and getting to see the students succeed.
“Like this year, the girls (softball team) had a great, great tournament and came back from nowhere,” Felten said. “They’re going to state and should do very well. That kind of thing is so exciting. They’re successful and they’re such great kids.”
With the winds of change, Reed High School will forever be changed by the presence of Jamie Felten. Many RHS staff members say he left a deep impression on not only athletics, but each and every person that he worked with.
“Enjoy life,” were Vesco’s word of wisdom to Felten upon retirement. “He’s worked so hard for everybody else. He needs to take time for himself and his family.”