STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
BURNET — Three coaches are joining the Burnet Consolidated Independent School District staff in 2018-19.
They are Shelly Jones as volleyball head coach, Mike Walzel as Burnet High School girls golf head coach and Burnet Middle School golf coach, and Craig Griffin as Burnet Middle School boys athletics coordinator.
BCISD athletic director Kurt Jones said each hire will make the individual programs and the department better because of their vast knowledge, teaching abilities, and skills in developing relationships with the community.
Shelly Jones guided Cleburne to a share of the District 9-5A title with an 11-3 record in 2017. Overall, Cleburne had a 21-21 record.
While the results at Cleburne are notable, it’s the training ground Jones received as the top varsity volleyball assistant coach at Dripping Springs that stood out to the BCISD athletic director and Burnet High School girls coordinator Rick Gates.
Jones was a big part of the coaching staff in 2015, the year the Lady Tigers won the Class 5A state championship.
Kurt Jones said they called Dripping Springs to ask if that staff had an assistant coach who would be interested in applying for the Burnet position. That’s how they found Shelly Jones.
“(Shelly) Jones brings good enthusiasm and will help install some high expectations for our program,” the athletic director said. “We understand and know the success of the Dripping Springs program. They pointed us to Shelly. We were super impressed with her.”
The volleyball coach also played at Southern Arkansas University.
“She told us she has high expectations,” Kurt Jones said. “I think she knows how to handle the girls the right way.”
Walzel is taking the reins as the high school girls golf head coach and the middle school golf coach. Walzel coached in Burnet in the 1990s then left education. He returned to teaching and Burnet in the early 2000s, but had not been coaching — until now.
“He’s the right person,” Kurt Jones added.
When the athletic director began looking for a new middle school boys athletics coordinator, he knew he wanted an individual who understood how to teach a variety of sports because that person must coach football, basketball, and track and field and fill in as needed elsewhere. In addition, the ideal coordinator will bring stability by staying a number of years on that campus.
When Jones interviewed Griffin, he found the applicant who checked off many of the boxes and so much more.
“We were looking for an experienced, veteran coach who could bring veteran wisdom to that position,” Jones said. “We wanted someone who’s well-rounded and knows a lot about a lot of different sports and someone we felt like could be stable in that position for five to 10 years.”
He noted that Griffin is a “great teacher,” which means he’ll be able to explain sports fundamentals, techniques, and basics to the younger student-athletes. Plus, Griffin will do so in a way Jones wants them taught so that the middle school athletes are entering high school with a firm understanding of those skills.
“Our athletes start their training program beginning at that age (in middle school),” the athletic director said. “(Griffin) has a lot of experience and is well-rounded. It allows him to thrive in that position. That person has to have good experience, veteran wisdom, and is an energy guy who’s an encourager and understands the delicate nature of middle school athletes at 12 to 14 years old and how to handle kids the right way.”