At the end of my recent visit with Phil Blue, new GCISD executive athletic director took a moment.
“I have to tell you, I’m exhausted,” he confessed.
You can hardly blame Blue, who arrived in late February and has done nothing but search for and place the new head football coaches at Colleyville Heritage and Grapevine, restructure the athletic leadership at each school, and then do another round of hiring.
If you missed our tweets from @NETarrantNews, here’s what was expected to happen when the school board met Monday.
• Lindy Lombard, who spent six seasons with Sager before taking the job at Saginaw Chisholm Trail in 2013-2014, is returning to the district as the new head girls basketball coach and athletic coordinator at Grapevine.
• Lee Yeager, who won more than 300 games in 14 seasons at Corpus Christi Carroll, is now the new head baseball coach at Grapevine. He replaces interim coach Jeff Harp, who filled in this spring when longtime coach Tim McCune retired last December.
• In a move that didn’t require board approval, Colleyville Heritage head girls basketball coach Dianna Sager became the girls athletic coordinator, replacing golf coach Terie Campbell, who moved on to take the golf position at Lewisville Hebron.
In order to really tackle all of these I went through each of the moves with Blue to offer his philosophy on them.
To start with the girls coordinator positions, they were previously held by non-basketball coaches at each school in Campbell and Grapevine volleyball coach Diane Wilson. Blue spoke specifically with the move with Sager.
“It’s just been my experience that we needed someone who is in the gyms and knows how to share the two of them and volleyball,” he said. “Dianna has all of the qualities and the seniority to handle all of it.”
What Blue wanted was to have some true structure. Part of his reason for hiring Darren Allman and Randy Jackson is that he wanted to have coaches who had some AD experience. Those two did. With those two, Sager, Lombard and his assistant Tim Ford, Blue believes he has everything in place.
“I’m trying to build a true leadership system,” Blue said. “I can’t be on the campuses every day. The great thing is that we have people who I feel confident will be able to meet the needs and make sure our coaches can be the best they can be.”
Lombard’s return to the GCISD will bring familiarity. Her transition seems seamless. If anything, her only year at Chisholm Trail could help reassure followers how successful she can be. Without a senior class in 2013-2014 (Chisholm Trail is a new school), Lombard guided that program to an 18-13 record and appearance in the Class 4A state playoffs.
“She exudes enthusiasm and confidence,” Blue said. “When you start checking the boxes of qualities you want to lead a program, Lindy has them. She was an outstanding choice.”
As for Yeager, Blue never forgot about the interview the two had in 2012 when Yeager interviewed for the same position at Georgetown. The timing wasn’t right then. It is now.
“He has family up here and with school coming, this was the time to do it,” Blue said. “He’s a guy I wanted to work with before. He said he wasn’t leaving [Carroll] unless he was coming somewhere that had the same level of success. He wants to have a program that’s going to be in the conversation every year.”
With Grapevine’s tradition, that should not be a problem. There are some minor moves left to be made, but the bulk of Blue’s work is done.
Change always incites fear, anxiety and the unknown. It started last November when the district announced it would be looking for a new executive AD. Now every coach in the district is on the other side of it. Some may not have liked it or agreed with it. Others could have been totally supportive.
Time will tell if all of these moves Blue made can turn GCISD athletics into the state power the community desires.