Killeen boys soccer coach Sylvester Jallah was ready for a change, which in turn set off musical chair-like changes within Killeen ISD’s soccer programs.
“I just feel like I’m young, I need to go somewhere else,” said Jallah, who has accepted an assistant coaching position at UT-Tyler.
“It’s hard to leave this area, but sometimes you’ve just got to branch out and try something else to do.”
With Jallah moving on, it allowed several other coaches to find opportunities within the district. In the last two weeks, KISD selected three district assistants to become head coaches and hired another at a different position after an out-of-district job opportunity fell through.
Two weeks ago, former Ellison assistant coach Ryan Flanigan was hired as the new head boys coach at Harker Heights, where the former head boys coach, Jared Cruddas, replaced departed Royce Mitchel as the head girls coach.
“I think the movement that is happening is going to be beneficial,” Flanigan, 28, said. “I’m excited for the opportunity.”
Cruddas, who resigned to take another similar opportunity with Brownwood ISD, was rehired after he was forced to withdraw from the Brownwood head boys soccer and cross country job due to family reasons.
“It’s been weird to see all the moves that have been made,” said Cruddas, who graduated from Harker Heights in 2001 and was hired to replace Jeremy Key as head boys soccer coach in 2009.
“It’s just a strange situation. I mean, we had our house packed up and it just didn’t work out (at Brownwood).”
At the same time, former Heights boys assistant Aaron Bragewitz was hired to replace Jallah at Killeen High after applying for both the Knights’ and Lady Knights’ jobs.
Mitchel was hired away as the new girls head coach at Temple on June 11.
These are the first head coaching jobs for both Flanigan and Bragewitz, who have been soccer assistants since 2008.
“It’s a great opportunity. … I’m just going to try to implement everything I’ve learned (as an assistant) and try to get Killeen back on top like it used to be,” Bragewitz said. “It’s just kind of crazy, I know changes like this happen all the time in the coaching ranks, I’ve just never been apart of it (before).”
The 29-year-old Jallah guided the Roos to five playoff appearances in his six seasons as head coach, including in his first season (2007-08). The Roos won a playoff game for the first time in 2010 and did it again the following year. They were 6-15-2 overall this season, their first in Class 5A, and 2-12 in District 8-5A, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
“It’s looking positive in Killeen for soccer growth,” Cruddas said. “It’s just weird that it’s happening this year. … But I think KISD is moving in the right path — they’re definitely hiring qualified coaches to take head positions.”
This past season was highly successful for KISD soccer, especially on the boys side, where both Harker Heights (14-9-4) and Ellison (16-7-1) made the postseason — the Knights for the fourth time in the last five seasons and third straight.
Flanigan is a former Temple High School standout who has been the lead assistant under longtime Ellison head boys coach Niles Dunnells for the last five seasons, and was a major cog in getting the Eagles back to the postseason last year for the first time in 13 years.
“KISD has done a good job of already improving the soccer scenario … so (it’s) headed in the right direction,” Flanigan said.