It takes a serious love of community for a 79-year-old retired coach and administrator to get out of the house and back on the job.

It takes a serious love of community for a 79-year-old retired coach and administrator to get out of the house and back on the job.

But with ties to Sherman High School that go back more than four decades, Tommy Hudspeth was willing to answer the call of duty one more time.

"Sherman’s been good to me," Hudspeth said Wednesday. "We’ve lived in the area a long time now, and it’s our home. I have a lot of interest in the kids in Sherman. The kids need more than just X’s and O’s.

"I’ve always been a supporter of the Bearcats and the school district. There was a need there, and I was willing to help out."

Hudspeth, who coached the Bearcat football team to success in the 1970s and served as an administrator for many years afterward, is back at school, this time as Sherman’s director of athletics. Hudspeth assumed his new duties on Nov. 11 and repeatedly emphasized that his new job won’t be permanent.

"When the situation came up that I could help out for a period of time, I was willing to talk to (the district)," he said. "I’m just helping for a period of time."

Sherman ISD superintendent Al Hambrick, who worked with Hudspeth for many years at the high school and followed a very similar career path, said in a statement that Hudspeth’s wealth of experience will be valuable.

"Coach Hudspeth has a strong history as an educator and athletic administrator with SISD," Hambrick said. "His role will be to work with our staff to plan and provide quality athletic program opportunities for our student athletes in all sports."

Hudspeth fills the athletic director vacancy created when head football coach Gary Kinne was stripped of his AD duties by Hambrick last month as punishment for University Interscholastic League violations over the summer.

Kinne served a one-game suspension during the Oct. 4 game against Denison and was placed on probation by the UIL executive committee for direct participation and use of school equipment during a 7-on-7 tournament in Arkansas. Kinne remains under contract through the end of the 2015-16 school term.

"Coach Kinne and I have a good understanding and a good working relationship," Hudspeth said. "That’s not an issue whatsoever. We’ll work together to do what’s best for the kids."

Hudspeth said he is "more or less" working as an independent contractor for services with the district, but it’s possible he could be brought on as a direct staff member if need be in order to sign legal documents and the like. How long his duties will be required remains to be seen.

"At some point a decision will be made," Hudspeth said. "But it’s not been discussed yet."

It’s not the first time Sherman has had a separate athletic director and head football coach. Hudspeth said Jimmy Phillips was Sherman’s AD in the 1980s, before the positions were combined with the hiring of John Outlaw in 1988.

Hudspeth’s connections with Sherman go all the way back to 1971, when he was hired from Longview to coach the football Bearcats. He won 52 games at Sherman from 1971-78, which ranks No. 4 on the all-time list.

The Bearcats went undefeated in 1976, won the outright District 13-4A championship and beat Longview in the bi-district round before tying Temple and failing to advance on penetrations. The ’76 Bearcats finished with a 10-0-2 record.

A year later, Sherman tied Plano for a second consecutive year, and went undefeated once again. But this time, the Bearcats were co-champions with Plano, the Wildcats held the tiebreaker edge, and Plano went to the playoffs while the Bearcats stayed home in a time when only one team per district advanced.

In all, Hudspeth’s Bearcats went 25 games from 1975-77 without suffering a loss, a school record that still stands.

Hudspeth began his head coaching career in McKinney (1964-66), where he led the Lions to the 1966 Class 3A state championship game. He also coached at Longview (1967-70) and Mesquite (1979-83), with a career record of 137-64-8 in 20 years as a head coach and 28 years of service overall.

Hudspeth was named to coach in the Texas High School Coaches Association All-Star Football Game in 1977 and the Oil Bowl in 1978. He served as president of the THSCA in 1977 and was named to the THSCA Hall of Honor in 1985.

After ending his coaching career at Mesquite, Hudspeth returned to Sherman to enter administration and spent 15 years there before retiring in 1999.

As high school principal, he helped hire Outlaw, who led the Bearcats to 57 wins and five district championships from 1988-94. Then later, as assistant superintendent, he helped bring in the next two coaches, Ronnie Tipps and his top assistant, Drew Young, who became head coach in 2003 after Tipps left Sherman.

In retirement, Hudspeth is active in numerous pursuits, including serving for the last 10 years as president of the board of directors of the Air Chapel Learning Center, which does ministry for the Grayson County Boot Camp and runs a follow-up program called the Timothy Project which stays in touch with former boot-camp inmates.

Hudspeth and his wife will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in January. They have two daughters, both graduates of Sherman High School, two sons-in-law and four grandchildren.

Lots have changed over the years since Hudspeth was a coach, and he’s seen it as an administrator and as a community volunteer. More athletes compete in a single sport year-round, for example, and athletes are more highly-skilled. But the changes have been societal, too.

"Kids have a lot more on their plate," he said. "Coaches in SISD and everywhere need to broaden the job description to make sure we’re providing our kids support for more than just athletics. We should put lots of emphasis on areas beyond athletics as far as academics, character building, even community service."