Krataura Buckner was comfortable in her position as Hirschi’s headgirl basketball coach. Maybe too comfortable.
Buckner decided to step out of her comfort zone when she accepted the same position at Naaman Forest High School in Garland, leaving her hometown to lead a Class 6A program.
“I had a few good years at Hirschi. Hirschi treated me with the utmost respect,” said Buckner, who graduated from Wichita Falls High in 1999. “(Hirschi director) Doug Albus has been great to me. I’ve worked under two great sports coordinators. Danny Youngs hired me and gave me a chance, and (Antonio) Wiley let me grow and run the girls’ program.
“I know (coach Lawrence) Johnson would have given me the opportunity to finish it at Hirschi, but I felt like it was time to grow at another school.”
Buckner exits Hirschi after six seasons, scoring an 84-96 record. The Lady Huskies made the postseason in each of their seasons, winning a district title in 2019. The Lady Huskies went 15-17 last season.
The decision to leave her hometown was a difficult decision for Buckner.
“It was a difficult decision, especially with the five girls who just graduated. They’ve been with me since they were in eighth grade,” Buckner said. “I’ve gotten into a routine here. My mom is here and friends I grew up with. It makes you feel good and that was one of the things I had to think about.
“Do I really want to get out of my comfort zone? That was the hardest thing to decide. I’ll miss my mom and my friends, but I’m not too far away.”
Buckner insisted that the upcoming opening of two new schools in Wichita Falls ISD in 2024 and the lack of a guaranteed job at either school did not affect her decision.
“It has nothing to do with that. I know people will think it’s like that, but it really isn’t,” Buckner said. “If these new schools finally opened up and someone offered me the opportunity to train at one, I might come back. But those school openings didn’t deter me from this job.”
One of Naaman Forest’s greatest appeals to Buckner is the opportunity to train at 6A level.
“I’ve always wanted to try that,” Buckner said. “You will find great athletes at any school, but I’ve always wanted to train at a 6A because I want to train against Duncanville or Cedar Hill. I want to see where I stand as a coach compared to the best.”
Buckner is inheriting a difficult program that has not appeared in the postseason since 2018. Rangers have not progressed past the second round of the playoffs since 2009.
Naaman Forest went 10-19 last season and finished fifth in District 9-6A. Garland ISD uses a voting system familiar to Buckner, who has used the same system in Wichita Falls in the past. She hopes to use it to rebuild the program.
“I want to make Naaman Forest the program that all children want to attend,” Buckner said. “I think there’s a way to do that.”
REDDING REPLACES MCCAULEY WITH WFHS SOCCER
Patrick McCauley’s resignation as head coach of Wichita Falls High’s boys’ soccer program was one of the biggest surprises of the spring in a busy coaching carousel.
But Kyle Redding, who was selected to take over the program, is one of the most notable additions to WFISD.
McCauley exits Old High as the program’s most successful coach, posting a record 161-50-34 in nine seasons. His career win percentage (0.657) is also the best in the program.
The Coyotes won six district titles and competed in the 2017 state tournament during McCauley’s tenure. They won at least one playoff game in each of his nine seasons. The 2021 team finished the regular season unbeaten and suffered their first and only loss in the regional quarterfinals.
Redding is well known in Wichita Falls football circles, having served as an assistant coach with the Midwestern State’s Hirschi boys and women’s programs. He brings decades of coaching experience at the high school, college, and club levels.
RIDER FILLS POSITIONS WITH ACTION
Rider Athletic Coordinator Marc Bindel went through the busiest hiring process of any school in the area this spring, having to fill five vacancies as head coach.
While Bindel is still looking for a volleyball coach for Alysha Humpert, he has decided to fill the other four positions with internal candidates.
“Ultimately, I thought we already had strong candidates in the house,” said Bindel. “We interviewed a few candidates from outside the program, but I felt comfortable promoting assistants to the head coaching position.”
Among the new additions are Christian Harley, who is taking over the boys’ basketball program from Cliff McGuire, and Todd Chamberlain, who is inheriting the girls’ basketball program from Kendall Webb.
Harley spent a season as an assistant under McGuire. Chamberlain is a longtime assistant rider who has trained on both the boys’ and girls’ sides.
Abby (Donnell) Bates, the greatest softball player in Rider history, decided to give up her high school coaching career and hand the program over to Kristen Borton.
Eventually, Ross Dillard replaces Kayla Brown as head girl track coach. Dillard has been the defensive coordinator for the Rider football team and assistant career coach for several years.
REMARKABLE ASSISTANT COACHING SETTINGS
Not only head coaches make headlines.
Notable assistant coaches added to the region’s staff include driver legend Eric Ward.
Ward was hired as a linebacker coach and special team coordinator at Hirschi. After an impressive career at Rider, Ward went on to become one of the most prolific receivers in Texas Tech history.
Ward was previously an assistant coach at Rider and most recently an offensive coordinator at Burkburnett in 2020.
Another coach making the move home is Wes Johnson, who has returned to Windthorst as a baseball and football assistant. Johnson was previously the head baseball coach at Archer City before moving to Munster for the same position. He served as Munster’s softball coach last season, filling a need for the school district.