Some might think Jenny Bowden could easily relate to her basketball players.

She was in their shoes just a few years ago. And now in her first season at the helm in Lampasas, Bowden had to fight being a “friend” instead of a head coach.

“It might have struck them the wrong way when I was forceful coming in and trying to make changes,” said the 29-year-old Bowden, who graduated from Lampasas in 2000. “I had to show them that things were going to change.”

It hasn’t all been tough love — Bowden said she’s lightened up and the team has had fun — but change isn’t always smooth for a first-year coach. The girls basketball season began this week with three new area coaches.

There were five first-year basketball coaches last season, including both Chris Carroll (girls) and Todd Shelton (boys) at Gatesville, and Drake Stanczak (girls) and Danny Wood (boys) at Florence.

But unlike Bowden, a first-time head coach, Copperas Cove’s Teresa Durham and Belton’s Brenda Gomez both bring impressive resumes to their latest destinations.

Durham led China Spring to the 2006 Class 3A state championship. Three years later, Gomez did the same at district-rival Robinson.

Now again rivals in District 12-5A, Durham and Gomez have talked and shared their program-building experiences along the way.

“We both shared the fact that there aren’t that many kids that you’d think would be playing the sport, but I don’t think anybody really wants to play if its not successful,” said Gomez, who had five state titles in 25 seasons in New Mexico before moving to Texas in 2007. “So you have the diehards that really love the game. Now we just have to get going in the direction where people want to be apart of it.”

All said one of the biggest steps in the first year and getting players to buy into a coaching staff’s program. And not just the current varsity, but all the way down to the sub-varsity teams, middle schools and even the little leagues if the community supports it.

It can also be a challenge for a coach that’s been at a previous stop for years and already had a program established. Durham came to Cove after 10 years at China Spring. Gomez went to Robinson after 25 seasons in Portales, N.M.

“You get used to already having your system in place and it’s just been very hectic going back to square one, starting with our middle schools on up and going back to the basics and getting your system in place,” said Durham, “Getting coaches all on the same page, getting players to understand what you’re doing.

“I know I’ve thrown a lot at our kids and they know things, but they’re still a little hesitant in their thinking and not playing basketball yet.”

Being a first-year coach — or second- and third-year — also means dealing with expectations. What those are however, depend on the program, where it’s at and it’s history.

Cove missed the playoffs last season for the first time since 2006. Players and fans who grew up in Cove still talk about the powerhouse teams from the 1990s and 2000s.

Bowden was a four-year varsity player for the Lady Badgers. Her junior season, Lampasas went 31-6 and reached the Region IV-4A semifinals.

“We’re going to do things to help you be successful,” Bowden said. “We’ve been there and done that, and we want that for the girls. We want them to experience that.”

Contact Angel Verdejo at or (254) 501-7564.


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