By Nick Talbot and Angel Verdejo
The Cove Herald
The formula is really simple.
It's worked for longtime Copperas Cove athletic director Jack Welch time and time again, and Florence's Paul Smith is trying to make it a habit in his first year as the Buffaloes' athletic director.
When it comes time to find a new head coach, look within the program. There, more times than not, you'll find a qualified assistant ready to step in.
"If you're satisfied with your program, you feel like your program is doing well and you have top assistants, I think you need to look there first," Welch said. "I always do before you open it up."
Welch followed this formula twice in the last two weeks and four times in the last year, most recently with Michael Epley, who takes over the head boys soccer coaching position at Cove. Epley was an assistant and head JV coach for John Jackson, an assistant himself for 12 seasons himself before taking over the boys program in 2007.
Smith also sees promoting from within as a first option.
That is why he promoted Drake Stanczak to girls basketball coach and Danny Wood to boys basketball coach this past week.
"They are both good guys and have been on the staff, so the kids know them," Smith said. "(Hiring from within) brings some stability to the roles. You always want to promote from within, if you can."
That stability is the main reason Wood applied for the job.
"It was just too much turnover," said Wood, who has been the boys assistant coach for five seasons at Florence and coached for four years at Rancier Middle School. "They were having to learn something different every year and if you are going to build something, the players need someone they can trust and someone that is going to be there more than one year."
Stanczak, who has spent two years as the girls assistant coach and as the head cross country coach, will take over the head duties for both the Florence tennis program and the girls basketball team next year.
"I feel good about it," said Stanczak, who has coached at Florence for 11 years, including nine as the head boys basketball coach. "I think I have a good relationship with coach (Paul) Smith and I think this is best for the kids."
Promotions don't always go from the same sport, but those with similar backgrounds.
Chris Carroll just completed his first season as a Gatesville assistant boys basketball coach. Before the school year finished, however, Carroll moved from the boys team to the girls as he was tabbed to replace Megan Simoneau, who left Gatesville to take the Llano head coaching job.
The move fit - Carroll has 16 years of college girls basketball experience, spending the 2005-08 seasons as an assistant at the University of Richmond.
Another such move came when Chris Munoz, a former Lampasas baseball assistant, took over the softball program this season and led the Lady Badgers to the Class 4A regional quarterfinals.
"There are a lot of similarities but (softball's) faster paced and there's more strategy," Munoz said. "(Being a head softball coach is) something I always wanted to do."
Unlike Carroll, though, this is Munoz's first head coaching position.
"It's more doing what you want to do," Munoz said. "Being an assistant was more of a learning experience because there's still a head coach and you're doing things the way he wants to do it. You're just trying to get on the same page. Once you get on the same page, it's a good transition."
Cove coach swaps
Here are former Cove assistant coaches hired on as head coaches the last two years:
Michael Epley boys soccer
Preston Flaniken girls basketball
Billy White Jr. boys basketball
C.J. Wilk baseball