The Sherman athletic department added a pair of head coaches during its monthly school board meeting, filling vacancies for girls basketball and swimming on Monday night.
Both hires have had success at their previous stops and Bearcat athletic director Bob Jones hopes to see that continue with Kara Skinner taking over girls basketball and Dan Snow leading the swim program.
“We are excited to get these two. They’re really, really good. It’s a coup for us,” Jones said. “We had some really good candidates. The things that stood out in their interviews is their love for kids and their passion for the sport.”
Each job was culled down to a finalist pool of four or five candidates and interviews were done with those remaining applicants. As the search took place during the start of the coronavirus pandemic, there were some tweaks made to the process.
“I wasn’t really excited about doing a meeting through Zoom. Everyone was presented an option to interview online or in person and everyone took the in-person option,” Jones said. “We did social distancing.They were offered a mask if they wanted to use one. It was a different experience.”
Skinner replaces David Upton, who stepped down into a teaching-only role at the high school after four years in charge of the program. She has been the head girls hoops coach at Port Neches-Groves, a Class 5A program southeast of Beaumont, for the past three seasons and turned around a program which won just three games before her arrival. The Lady Indians went 8-17 in her first season but then made the playoffs the past two years — the first in program history — with bi-district losses.
“She’s known great success in a short amount of time as a head coach. She’s proven she can do that,” Jones said. “She’s the person we want to lead that program.”
Port Neches-Grove was 23-13 and third in the District 21-5A standings before a 24-12 mark this past season and the Lady Indians were the district runner-up by winning a tie-breaker game against Dayton.
Skinner was an assistant for one season at Port Neches-Groves before being elevated to lead the program. Prior to that she was an assistant at Cleveland and Livington after graduating form Hardin-Simmons. She went to high school at Grand Saline.
Her husband, Zach, will be the offensive line coach at Sherman.
Upton went 36-90 in four seasons and 5-39 in district play. The program has not had a winning record and missed the playoffs for the past six seasons. Sherman went 9-23 and 0-10 in the District 10-5A standings in 2019-20, which was a slight improvement over a 7-25 record the prior season. The Lady Bearcats have lost 21 straight district games — and 29 of the past 30 — dating back to 2018.
A week into the season leading scorer Destiny Briscoe, a freshman, tore an ACL and missed the rest of the year. Two other freshman, Jayla Jones and Andre’sha Luper, also jumped immediately onto the varsity roster and joined sophomores Lilly Ball and Ally Baker and junior Sa’Nyah Hunter. Two other juniors, Abby Khader and Jastic Eleby, were honorable mention all-district picks.
The Lady Bearcats lose just one senior, second-team all-district selection Ja’dyne Gatewood, and will have a new district for the next two years — Denison, Wylie East, McKinney North, Lovejoy, Princeton, The Colony and Prosper Rock Hill.
Snow replaces Jodi Thompson, who led the swim program for 24 years and announced she was stepping down from her coaching duties in late February.
He has more than 40 years of experience with both high school and USA Swimming. During a 15-year career as a high school head coach with much of that at Flower Mound, Snow has coached 20 district champions, eight region champions and five top 10 finishes at the state meet, including a third-place girls finish in 2019 when Snow was named the Class 6A Coach of the Year by the Texas Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association. He also has been District Coach of the Year eight times and Region Coach of the Year twice.
Snow has also been a water polo coach, starting the program at Flower Mound in 2008 and earning three top-five finishes at state, including third place in 2019, on the girls side and six top-three finishes with a state championship in 2018 on the boys side.
At the District 5-5A meet, the Lady Bearcats placed third and had six regional qualifiers while the Bearcats were sixth and sent one entry to the region meet.
Sherman will compete with Denison, Celina, Melissa, Van Alstyne, Gunter, Pottsboro, Lovejoy, McKinney North and Prosper Rock Hill in District 10-5A for the next two years.