Northeast Tarrant

Lady Mustangs dealing with coach on maternity leave

Grapevine's Tatum Tellin says the team’s focus has been on consistency while head coach Lindy Slagle is on maternity leave.
Grapevine's Tatum Tellin says the team’s focus has been on consistency while head coach Lindy Slagle is on maternity leave. Special to the Star-Telegram

Change has come to the Grapevine girls basketball program in the most dramatic and positive way.

Head coach Lindy Slagle gave birth to her son Owen Lewis on Dec. 29. This is her first child. It means the third-year boss will be missing some time with the program. But it’s also something that every player had been expecting.

“It’s always different when you’re missing someone, especially the head coach,” Slagle said. “But this is where you have to have the full trust of the players and the coaches to keep doing the things we put in place for the season. We’ve known about all this summer and tried to be as prepared as possible to make the transition as quickly as possible.”

Varsity assistant Collin McKinney is serving as the interim coach. He officially started last week at the Mansfield Tournament. McKinney has a vast coaching background when he was the head coach at Garland Naaman Forest in the mid 2000s.

McKinney already had the experience of running the team when he and freshman coach Andy Jacobs took it to the Canyon tournament in early December. Given the late stage of her pregnancy, doctors would not permit Slagle to make the trip.

Admittedly, Slagle had a difficult time letting go of all of her duties. Days before the team faced Mansfield Summit in the tournament, Slagle had broken down film and reviewed a game plan with McKinney. In November and December, she was on the court demonstrating the way drills or plays should be performed. Of course, that was a little more of a trying experience given her circumstances.

“They’re all very loyal on the bench,” Slagle said. “There can be a great adjustment that they’ll suggest during the game or at halftime. They have the freedom to be a part of what we’re trying to get done. I want that. Our entire staff is big-time. I trust Collin. And if there is something that needs to change, he’ll do it.”

The 2016-2017 season has been the year of new additions. Junior varsity coach Emma Jackson had her baby back in September.

District 8-5A play resumes on Tuesday as Grapevine plays host to Fort Worth Dunbar. The Lady Mustangs (9-8, 3-0) were tied for first place with Colleyville Heritage. Grapevine is looking to return to the postseason for the third consecutive season.

“She mainly wanted us to focus on how her leave of absence shouldn’t affect our season,” senior wing Tatum Tellin said. “There really wasn’t a difference [when the team was in Canyon] because I think we have such a strong foundation that there wasn’t a need to change anything.”

Slagle plans to return to the bench at some point. She’s currently consulting with her doctors and the Grapevine-Colleyville ISD Human Resources Department about a part-time return. Per district regulations, Slagle cannot even set foot on GCISD property. She’s hoping that changes in mid-to-late January.

However, the eagerness to return is tempered by the arrival of one of the greatest responsibilities a person can ever have.

“This is my favorite time of year as a basketball person,” Slagle said. “I’m sure I’m going to dial it back. But I’ll have to see about when I can return and what I can actually do once I get back out there.”