Keller Citizen

November 25, 2013

GCISD athletics makes a statement in creating new executive position

The Lonnquist Notes The move has the potential to set up every program at Grapevine and Colleyville Heritage high schools for greater success.

Change can be such an unnerving experience. By nature, we’re pretty set in our ways, so when the routine is disrupted, fear of the unknown is typically the first response.

So you can understand why there might be a little bit of apprehension within the athletic community at both Grapevine and Colleyville Heritage when the district announced recently it’s searching for a new Executive Director of Athletics.

On the surface, this should be greeted with a sense of relief because it appears that the district is trying to get its athletics house in better order. More structure is needed. Coaches need to know there will be a person who will support them and fight for what they need to make their programs even more successful. They also probably need a better sense of expectations.

This is not a slight to current AD Tim Ford. He’s been a steady hand since he became AD six years ago. But we all understand that the action taken signals that the current way of doing things, which has Ford working without an assistant, isn’t working anymore.

Superintendent Dr. Robin Ryan needed to make this decision. But he and the GCISD school board really have to put some teeth into the position if they want this person to be effective.

From an outsider’s perspective, the only way you’re going to attract solid candidates is to make the starting salary at least $110,000. If you’re below $100K, well then, you get what you pay for.

Maybe the district has already drawn this up but not shared with anyone, but there should also be some autonomy. This director needs one or two assistants to help effectively discharge the mandate. It seems like Ford will be in a perfect position to do that. The district has acknowledged his insight because of his tenure.

Most importantly, the Executive AD should have the final say when selecting new head and assistant coaches throughout the district. That applies to the elementary schools, middle schools and the two high schools.

There needs to be a partnership with the principals, not an adversarial one. If the principal is making the first call on the new coach and the AD basically has to accept the hire, then we have a problem.

I recently heard that a former GCISD coach interviewed at another school district and left for that opening. The coach interviewed with the AD at the new district first, and commented that it was astonishing, because at GCISD the coach didn’t meet Ford until three months after starting. That needs to change.

OK, so who would be interested in this job? Let’s start internally. You would think Ford will apply and be named a finalist. But I don’t see him being chosen. Maybe Grapevine head football coach Dave Henigan is ready to get out of coaching. He has a pretty solid background and has been an AD (Corsicana). It might be the right time to leave the sidelines.

Beyond the area, you could see the likes of McKinney’s Shawn Pratt, Birdville’s Chris Feris and Rockwall’s Russ Reeves. Keller assistant AD Becky Spurlock likely doesn’t want to be an assistant forever and desires to take the next step. All four have the background dealing with multiple schools and finding the blend to create success.

Perhaps Keller’s Bob DeJonge would take a look at this and not formally apply, but want to be considered. Maybe Northwest’s Susan Elza figures she’s taken her district from beyond the dark ages, made it respectable and needs a new challenge. Carroll’s Kevin Ozee is in too good of a position unless he just wants out. I have not heard that. But with Dr. Ryan’s background in Carroll, someone over there could surface.

As this process unfolds over the next two months, there will be a lot of rumor and innuendo about names and the future. Regardless, this is the GCISD’s opportunity to make real strides. Let’s hope the execution matches the anticipation.

Football Playoff Picks

We won on both Keller Fossil Ridge and Carroll last week. That improved our record to 64-15. So the picks continue.

Keller Fossil Ridge (9-3) vs. Denton Ryan (10-2); 2 p.m. Saturday, Apogee Stadium, Denton (Class 5A Division II Region I semifinal): A great story by the Panthers continues. They dominated San Angelo Central and continue to play at a high level. I love their momentum. Denton Ryan’s physical running game will be a challenge. Call this a tossup, but I’m going with Fossil Ridge one more time.

Prediction: Keller Fossil Ridge 32, Denton Ryan 25

Carroll (11-1) vs. Euless Trinity (10-2); 4 p.m. Friday, AT&T Stadium, Arlington (Class 5A Division I Region I semifinal): Both teams have been pretty impressive in their first two playoff games. Each team has great running attacks. But this game needs its quarterback to be a playmaker. And I think Carroll’s Ryan Agnew gives the Dragons more than what Christian Hammock gives the Trojans.

Prediction: Carroll 32, Euless Trinity 20

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