I had not seen this face in more than 10 years. When watching the Argyle Liberty Christian girls basketball team play Fort Worth Nolan Catholic this past Friday, I kept studying. The eyes were the tip. The voice sealed it.
The unexpected can make the best stories.
Former Richland and Carroll girls coach Ken Burroughs was patrolling the Liberty Christian bench, directing his team to a very comfortable 67-28 victory. A fixture at both Richland and Carroll between the early 1990s and early 2000s, Burroughs moved up to Denton County 10 years ago to take charge of this program.
This private school job figures to be Burroughs’ last stop. He’ll be 63 in March. And while the gray hair now dominates, the enthusiasm to coach the sport hasn’t. It’s likely that Burroughs can set his timeframe on when he wants to call it a career.
If you don’t know Burroughs’ history, that’s OK. Times have changed. People have moved in and out of the area. But just know that Burroughs built a really solid program in early 1990s with Richland and consistently had that program in the playoffs. He also was the mentor for Colleyville Heritage girls coach Dianna Sager. Sager was Burroughs’ top assistant from 1993-96 before she landed her first head coaching position in 1996 at Keller Fossil Ridge.
He then maintained stability with the Carroll girls program.
“I love what I’m doing here,” Burroughs said. “You can walk down the halls and see kids who really enjoy coming to school and coming to practice. We have a great group of young ladies here.”
He also has a very talented team. This 21-4 squad has quality wins over Allen, South Grand Prairie, Amarillo Tascosa and Fayetteville (AR). And four players going on to play Division I basketball. Senior point guard Sydney Goodson has signed with Arizona State, forward Kendall Ellig signed with Rice and forwards Hannah and Rebekah Hand (twin sisters) signed with Marist in New York. This team is likely the favorite win the TAPPS Division I title.
Burroughs does not recruit. However, his program’s consistency probably added a lot of appeal to players who wanted a place to play and have an academic environment that will set them up for college.
Wherever he has been, Burroughs has found a way to communicate with his players and get the maximum effort out of them. They also respect him. They make direct eye contact him and are respectful to not only him but to the opponents. Coaches at every level strive for that. Not everyone can attain it.
Burroughs is still one of the few who can elicit that. That’s where the success is more notable than the wins.
GCISD movement … again
Volatility and GCISD athletics pretty much go hand in hand these days. We saw the bizarre situation involving the Grapevine baseball coaching search last summer.
Now, we’re barely two weeks into the 2016 spring semester and both Colleyville Heritage and Grapevine are looking for new volleyball coaches. After two very successful seasons at Grapevine including a run to the Class 5A Region I championship game, Kori Cooper accepted a similar position at Cedar Park.
Following her only season at Colleyville Heritage in which she directed the Lady Panthers to the Class 6A Region I area round, Hollie Huston is out as head coach. She’ll remain as the girls athletic coordinator. But don’t look for her to remain in that role after this year.
With these sudden moves, you can only speculate as to what happened here. With Huston, maybe it was just not the right fit. That happens.
But keep in mind her hire was so late in the spring of 2015 that there may not have been the full implementation of what she wanted to stress in her approach to the game. She also worked with a roster that completely changed with the loss of three Division I standouts including Anna Walsh. The 2015 season was going to be somewhat of a rebuild.
The issue GCISD athletic director Bryan Gerlich must address is if he will continue to keep the athletic coordinator’s position with Huston’s successor or if it will go to girls basketball coach Dianna Sager or somebody else.
Cooper’s loss is tougher because she had taken Grapevine on historic postseason runs. She leaves a really good roster for whoever takes the position.
Time is of the essence of to make good hires. But the district likely will again face some tough questions from candidates as to why coaches in high profile positions are leaving.
Within the last three years, Grapevine has changed football, baseball and now volleyball twice. At Colleyville Heritage, it’s changed football twice and now volleyball twice.
That’s not the trend any district wants.