The curtain for 2014 draws to a close in a week, and it feels like the year has flown. What’s important is that we enjoy each moment with each other. Here’s hoping your Christmas is everything you hope it will be.
This sports year brought us extraordinary change, extraordinary accomplishment and extraordinary heartbreak. We cheered hard. We were stunned. We grieved.
So as we transition to 2015, let us reflect on the Top 5 stories that defined 2014.
Coaching changes aplenty
When we put out our predictions in 2014, we called for a major name to move on. We just didn’t expect a tidal wave of movement. Really, you could go back to the end of the first semester in 2013, when longtime Grapevine baseball coach Tim McCune decided to retire. That caught everybody by surprise. But McCune’s departure was just a prelude of things to come.
Northwest volleyball coach Dayna Horak decided to retire from coaching, Carroll volleyball coach Arthur Stanfield was forced out, Grapevine football coach Dave Henigan resigned to take the same position at Denton Ryan, Colleyville Heritage football coach Mike Fuller left for Decatur, Northwest football coach Bill Patterson headed north to Sherman and Grapevine girls basketball coach Steve Ganninger was reassigned before he moved on to Saginaw. The area lost some very well-respected and very successful people. But all of this reminded us that nothing is forever.
Byron Nelson’s boys soccer wins state
Howard Putter is one of the state’s most well respected soccer coaches. He enjoyed success in El Paso and Keller. But he came to Trophy Club believing he could take a team to the state tournament in Georgetown. In the sectionals, this veteran team faced a tight contest from Wichita Falls before prevailing, 2-1.
Led by the likes of Ryan Dandan and Devin Porter, the Bobcats blazed through the Class 4A Region I tournament to qualify for the state tournament. They then survived a 2-1 (7-6 shootout) win over Frisco Wakeland in the semifinals and then defeated Pharr Valley View, 2-1, in the state championship match. However, Putter never took credit. It all went to his players. The Bobcats enjoyed a 28-1-2 season.
Tragedy at Northwest
It’s the call no parent or coach wants to receive. And when it comes, it shatters you.
On Feb. 10, two Northwest girls basketball players were involved in a head-on car accident on FM 156 late in the afternoon due to icy road conditions from a storm that was moving through the area. ShyAnn Hooper, 16, lost her life. Brianna Christensen also suffered major injuries that have kept her from returning to play the game she loves.
Hooper’s family has tried to gain some measure of “normal.” But the question “Why?” remains. There is never a good answer for that question. But the Northwest girls basketball program and student body remain unified through this terrible ordeal. On Dec. 10, the program made Hooper’s memory secure as it retired her No. 24.
Realignment creates new relationships
Typically, realignment is pretty ho hum in our coverage area because the nine schools are pretty locked into their districts. However, the University Interscholastic League did manage to pull a surprise on Feb. 3. That was Carroll and Euless Trinity becoming district opponents for the first time.
There were other changes as 6A replaced 5A as the new highest classification level, followed by 5A replacing 4A. Byron Nelson moved up to 6A and joined a district with fellow NISD high school Northwest, the Denton and Keller schools. As expected, Nelson has had its growing pains.
Meanwhile, it came as no surprise as Grapevine moved down to Class 5A and joined a district with several Fort Worth schools, Lake Dallas and Birdville. The move seems to agree with the Mustangs so far.
Ozee moves on
Kevin Ozee had witnessed a period of great success running Carroll’s athletic program. There were state championships in football, girls soccer, swimming and cross country. But as the 2014-2015 school year began, the Arlington native saw an opportunity to return to his roots. When Arlington ISD athletic director O.J. Kemp retired, Ozee decided the time was right to make the move.
In mid-November he was announced as that district’s new athletic director. He began his new assignment on Dec. 1. Now, the Carroll ISD is looking for his replacement. For now, head football coach Hal Wasson is overseeing the boys sports. Girls athletics coordinator Teri Morrison is overseeing the girls sports. Both are serving in interim capacities.
Honorable mention: Northwest pole vaulter Desiree Freier wins a third consecutive state championship; Bill Poe, Darren Allman and Randy Jackson leave positions at Marble Falls, Austin Westlake and Plano East to take over the head football coaching positions at Northwest, Colleyville Heritage and Grapevine; Carroll boys cross country and boys swimming win state championships; Phil Blue leaves Georgetown to become the new Executive Athletic Director for the GCISD; Colleyville Heritage junior David Strome wins the boys overall individual Class 6A state title in boys cross country.