By Andrew Glover
STILLWATER, Okla. —
The Cushing Lady Tigers were stuck looking for a basketball coach deep in the summer after Jeff Zinn backed out and returned to Anadarko. Cushing had to pull someone out of retirement to lead its team that reached the Class 4A state semifinals, as Don Dodd takes the reins.
“He’s going to come in for one year,” Cushing athletic director Barry Patterson said. “We will re-open that job next year and try to get a quality name. (Dodd) helped (former girls basketball coach) Pat Elder for several years and is a real good coach.”
Dodd succeeds Brad Crace, who took a job in Elgin. His last coaching job was with Southwestern Oklahoma State University from 2005-2008. This isn’t the first time Dodd coached with Cushing as he was on Elder’s staff from 2001-2003 and is familar with the administration.
“We go quite a ways back,” Dodd said. “Under the circumstances they were in, I thought I would give it a shot.”
Cushing originally hired Anadarko’s Zinn last May, but he backed out of the job, shortly after being hired leaving the Lady Tigers scrambling.
This season, Dodd will have his hands full as seven players from last season’s 25-2 state semifinals team graduated, including star post player Che’Ron Lewis. Dodd said he is prepared for the challenge.
“When you go into coaching, you can’t tell the outcome,” Dodd said. “You have to overcome adversity. We are starting out in a difficult position. I’m going to do what I can as a coach and the best I can.”
Dodd hasn’t gotten a chance to meet with the team as he is currently living in Fredricksburg, Texas, and won’t be moving until closer to the school year. The new coach said his system will depend on his players.
“Under the circumstances, I’m going to keep things simple,” Dodd said. “Basketball is all about execution and fundamentals when you get right down to it. I’m going to make sure we are skilled overall.”
The Tigers also hired a new baseball coach with Berryhill assistant John Yates succeeding Charles Copeland, who left for Harrah. Yates definitely knows what it takes to win as Berryhill won the 4A state championship.
“I’ve been to the state tournament four times in the last five years and been to the finals three times,” Yates said. “I know the kids will buy in. It helps me that I’ve been there and won it.”
Yates’ 2014 Tiger squad will be very talented as it returns Tulsa 7 Conference Offensive Player of the Year Drew Wilson.
“They were very young last year and won 23 to 24 games,” Yates said. “I’m going to embrace what they’ve done and take it to the next level.
“It’s exciting as a head coach to have that kind of talent. It makes the transition smooth. I’m very familar with the kids, since my team has played against them.”
Cushing and Berryhill were in the same conference.
The Agra Bearcats completed the overhaul of the athletic staff, hiring Trey Simms as baseball coach succeeding Mark Bingham.
“I’m pretty excited to come out somewhere new and see what the kids are like,” Simms said. “We’ve met several people from town and everyone seems ready to help.”
Agra hired new football, girls basketball and softball coaches over the summer.
Simms taught at Edmond Deer Creek last year. Before that he was an assistant coach at Barton College in Great Bend, Kan., from 2010-2011.
The Morrison Lady Wildcats hope to bring stability to their basketball program as they hired Rowdy Cawlfield to replace Luke Kruse.
Cawlfield will be the program’s third coach in the last three seasons. The new coach has no plans of leaving anytime soon.
“I want to show them that my plan is to work hard,” Cawlfield said. “My daughter is a junior so I’m not looking at going anywhere. I have a son in seventh grade so hopefully he will be able to come up to the high school while I’m still here.”