New Lady Mustangs coach having to dive right in

Kori Cooper didn’t gradually transition into her first head coaching assignment. She jumped into it head first. She had to.

But then there’s a reason for that. Grapevine’s new volleyball coach was on vacation when she got word about the opening. After talking with the district, trusted friends and doing some soul-searching, the 26-year-old decided the time was now to make the move.

After spending two years at Amarillo as the junior varsity coach and varsity assistant, Cooper accepted the Grapevine position on July 21. She held an introductory meeting her team and parents on Monday. Grapevine’s team camp began on Tuesday. Cooper replaces Diane Wilson, who resigned after 18 seasons to take the same position at Arlington Bowie.

This is pretty much learning on the fly for Cooper, because the only thing she knows about her new team is who is returning and a little bit of who can do what. She has not seen any of the players in action. The camp will help, but due to UIL rules, she cannot coach it.

“I had some conversations with people in the area who said the team was really working hard to get ready and that their work ethic is the best thing about them,” Cooper said. “I had been on vacation from June 26 to July 21. Then I interviewed with them and this happened. It’s an opportunity I had to seize.”

Cooper is a volleyball lifer. She was a collegiate All-American at the University of Nebraska from 2006-2009. She was a member of the 2006 national championship team and the 2008 team that made the national semifinals. Nebraska advanced to the regional finals in 2007 and 2009.

After graduation, she dabbled in select volleyball and worked in speech therapy at a local hospital. But when Amarillo coach Jan Barker lost an assistant coach to another job in 2012, she reached out to Cooper, who immediately accepted.

The Amarillo High alum worked with the middle blockers and started helping in gameplans and organizing varsity practices.

“I’d like to think that Jan saw the potential in me as a head coach,” Cooper said. “She’s been at the school for about 30 years, so she knows how to groom people for head coaching jobs. I was fortunate that she had a lot of confidence in me.”

Grapevine’s fall workouts begin on Aug. 4. The season begins on Aug. 11. So there will be a lot of growth that comes with the job, as well as developing her style.

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“It’s evolving,” Cooper said. “Whatever we play really depends on the players. There are so many personalities. We’ll just have to see what our girls will respond to determine what that style is. The best coaches are the ones who are flexible.”

Cooper’s father, Rick Cooper, is a former men’s basketball coach at West Texas A&M and the sitting athletic director at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview.

New assistant AD

Colleyville Heritage assistant principal Bryan Gerlich has been named as the new assistant athletic director for the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District. He replaces Tim Ford, who left in June to become the athletic director for the Lewisville Independent School District.

Gerlich has coached football in West Texas and had been briefly considered for the executive athletic director’s position before it went to Phil Blue.

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