JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
MARBLE FALLS — Even before Marble Falls Independent School District board members approved the hires May 19 of boys head basketball coach Paul Gammage and head football coach and athletic director Matt Green, Green had already met his players hours earlier.
“I could not be more pleased,” he said. “They were very receptive. You could see the smiles on their faces. They may have felt abandoned, alone and rejected. How they feel is how they feel. But I’m here, and this is all going to be alright. They were relieved and excited.”
Superintendent Rob O’Connor said the school district was happy to welcome the newest head coaches to the Mustang family.
“Their hearts are in taking care of kids and nurturing kids,” he said. “They know how to work in the community in Marble Falls. They know how to develop players. I’m excited to have them come in and be Mustangs and excited to see where they take our players.”
Green has two important objectives.
The first is to develop solid relationships with the players.
“Players understand we’re opening a new chapter,” he said. “Change in life is difficult. Nobody likes change. There’s a comfort zone everyone works in. We do our best work outside our zone. I asked them to give me a chance, to embrace change and to let me build a staff that can get us to where we need to do.”
One of the first traits he noticed from the players is their desire to win, he said.
“That’s so much of the battle,” he said. “They’re going to work. They’re going to be committed.”
The second objective is to hire the best coaching staff he can.
The new head coach looks to hire eight more coaches for his staff, he said. Best case scenario is to have them all hired before the school year ends in three weeks, he said, but he is not tied to that timeline.
His goal is to create the best staff in order to build a winning program.
“You have to build a great staff,” he said. “That’s the beginning of the whole deal is getting a great staff built.”
Green returns to coaching in District 25-5A, two years after leaving Lake Travis to become the head coach at Lucas Lovejoy. He was the offensive coordinator when Lake Travis, then in District 25-4A with Marble Falls, won its second, third and fourth state championships. He worked for former head coach Chad Morris, who is now the offensive coordinator at Clemson.
“I think it gives me some familiarity in coaching in the district,” he said. “I don’t think it can hurt you to have knowledge of your opponent.”
He has not yet handed out playbooks because it’s counterproductive for players to run plays without a full staff to coach the different positions, he said.
“Without staff to do it, it could be detrimental,” he said. “You try to do too much.”
Still, Green said, he’s happy to know the Mustangs will play 7-on-7 during the summer, noting they will play in the Round Rock state-qualifying tournament May 24.
“I want them throwing and catching the ball and improving their skill work on the field,” he said. “Later, we’ll fully implement the changes that are coming.”
The position Green will coach is quarterbacks. He said he looks forward to working with junior quarterback Brennen Wooten and plans to begin meeting with him. The quarterback was known for having lunch with former head coach Todd Dodge at least twice a week for film study, whiteboard work and other position-related activities.
“He’s a very knowledgeable young man,” Green said. “We will begin to install things slowly.”
The most important part of his philosophy came from Morris.
“Never be satisfied,” he said. “Never think you’ve found the only way to succeed. I’m going to quote him directly: ‘There’s always a better mouse trap. You constantly have to get better.’ We had so much success at Lake Travis, but we constantly asked ‘How can we get better?'”
And by coaching at Lake Travis, Green said the fans and community also taught him it takes more than great players and great coaches to be successful.
“If you really want to get to the top, it will take a real team to get there,” he said. “It’ll take a community and parents to buy into it. The kids were truly invested and bought into the team first. In the end, we were a great team with great kids, parents, community and coaches aspiring to climb the ladder.”
When the board members unanimously approved his hire, Green broke into a giant smile and happily accepted a coach’s shirt and cap.
“I know this is where I’m supposed to be,” he said. “I think I’m a really good fit.”