New NHS volleyball coach brings passion to the position

03/24/2014 12:33 PM

03/24/2014 12:35 PM

The calls kept coming into Canyon Randall A.D. Jason Culpepper’s office. Athletic directors from smaller towns in West Texas wanted to measure his top assistant’s interest in their volleyball coaching vacancies.

To be sure, Amy Gaston was humbled by the interest. But deep down she knew wasn’t ready to be a head coach.

“I had several opportunities, but I never felt like it was the right time or the other jobs were the right position for me,” Gaston said. “There was going to be a time when I thought I was ready. This was the year. ”

Gaston called applying for the Justin Northwest position “doing it on a whim.” Northwest athletic director Susan Elza looked at Gaston and called her the ideal fit. The 28-year-old Gaston becomes a head coach for the first time. As we reported on our Twitter feed, @NETarrantNews, the Northwest ISD school board approved Gaston as the new Northwest coach on March 17.

“I just needed an interview so I could show someone I was ready for this challenge,” Gaston said.

While under contract in Canyon, Gaston will get to know Highway 287 working on the schedule, developing her offseason program and bringing the intensity that probably caught every player, coach and fan off guard when she met with them last week.

But that’s Gaston’s makeup. She was emotional fireball when she played for Culpepper at Dalhart in high school. She was the same way when she played in college at Tarleton State.

There’s no question Gaston learned a lot in five seasons at Randall. The program is a consistent Class 4A (now 5A) power. It won the state championship in 2009 and returned to the state tournament in 2011.

In that first season, Gaston had to change the way she saw the game. She had to watch the players and not the ball.

“I made a lot of mistakes in that first year,” Gaston said. “The way I watched the game was different than what I was used to. The biggest thing was to drive into the players and challenge them to play the game a certain way.”

Knowing the mechanics and strategy are a must. But a successful coach only becomes successful because of the way he or she deals with personalities. Not all personalities are alike. They can change day to day.

Gaston said she continues to build that quality and how she wants them to execute what she wants done on the court. It’s a process, because player X could be feeling a certain way one day and do a 180-degree turn the next.

“You have to be in this profession for the right reasons,” Gaston said. “It’s a challenging profession, but I think we got off to a good start. There are some cultural changes that we did through the first three days of practice. But I want to get this program to a very high level.”

More Northwest movement

If you are reading this in print on Wednesday, it’s likely that Northwest football coach Bill Patterson will have turned in his resignation to become the head coach and athletic director at Sherman. The Sherman school board was meeting Monday night to approve a new football coach. Everything pointed to Patterson.

Patterson’s departure would be a blow, because he elevated Northwest to a standard never seen before. He took the Texans to the playoffs in three of his five seasons, and the program went 16-6 the last two seasons.

This is really late in the football coaching hiring cycle. So athletic director Susan Elza would have a tight window to find a quality candidate and see if that coach can develop some kind of spring football season – if at all.

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