By Moses Leos III
It took less than 30 hours for the Hays High athletics program to lose two of it’s most recently successful coaches – softball coach Aaron Fuller and basketball coach Robert Lucero.
On Monday, Fuller rocked Hays High by announcing he will leave to become the head softball coach at Rosenberg Terry High School.
The deal was made official on May 28. Fuller said the school and himself are still discussing details of his contract.
Fuller maintained money was never the issue for the move. Instead, he said it was done to be closer to his girlfriend, who lives and works in the Houston area.
“I told [the team], as an adult you have to make decisions in your life that are best for you,” Fuller said. “They understood. They had an idea that one of us has to make the move. I don’t think they were too shocked, but they were definitely sad.”
Fuller said he informed his team and Athletic Coordinator Neal LaHue of his departure on Monday. LaHue said the search for the new coach would begin as soon as Fuller submits his letter of resignation; a move Fuller said happened on Tuesday.
“Coach Fuller has done an fantastic job here at Hays,” LaHue said. “Once a resignation has been submitted, we will post the position to find the best possible candidate out there.”
Several team members took to social media Monday to break the news.
“Not only was Fuller a great coach at Hays, but our team had such a great bond with him,” Lady Rebel sophomore Lizzie Bowne said on Twitter. “Going to state twice with him, amazing.”
“Fuller said [Rosenberg] Terry has only made the playoffs once,” sophomore Karina Rocha said on Twitter. “I know that’ll change.”
Fuller’s move was preceded by another coaching vacancy in the softball program. First year assistant coach Katie Boaz announced earlier in the week she was stepping down to focus on graduate school. Fuller said Boaz was staying at Hays to continue teaching.
According to LaHue, there are no frontrunners for the next head softball coach at this time.
In three seasons, Fuller compiled an overall record of 83-26. During his tenure, Hays claimed consecutive 27-4A district championships in 2013 and 2014, along with consecutive state tournament appearances, and the 2013 state championship – the first team title at Hays in modern history.
“It’s been a true blessing and honor to coach here at Hays. I couldn’t’ ask for a better place to start my career,” Fuller said. “It’s not easy leaving. Its bittersweet, but it’s what I need to do.”
Late Tuesday night, the Austin American-Statesman reported Westlake High School hired Hays boys basketball coach Robert Lucero to the same position.
Lucero, who was a Westlake assistant coach prior to being hired at Hays, said the offer Westlake athletic coordinator Todd Dodge gave couldn’t be passed up.
“I got offered a good job there. At the end of the day, it was hard to turn down,” Lucero said. “Leaving the kids at Hays and their parents and the community is very difficult. Last week was a sad time for me.”
Much like Fuller, Lucero’s move was preceded by another vacancy in the coaching staff. Earlier in the offseason, Hays assistant boys basketball coach Daniel Pittsford left to take the head-coaching job at Austin Anderson.
Lucero said the deal was finalized late Tuesday night. However, he said he wanted to let his team know before word spread on social media.
“I didn’t want them to hear it from everyone else,” Lucero said. “I called the returning players that night.”
According to Lucero, he informed LaHue of his departure on Tuesday, and will submit his letter of resignation on Wednesday.
The move comes at an intriguing time, as Westlake and Hays will face off in the new District 14-6A in 2014.
Lucero said facing off against his former team would be tough. However, the bond he built with the players mean more than any win.
“[The players] are all in. It was the best part of my day to coach and be around them,” Lucero said. “They have good parents and a good foundation; that’s why they are going to be successful.
In one year at Hays, Lucero led the Rebels to a 26-10 record, and helped guide the team to the regional final round – the deepest round any boys basketball team had reached since the 1970s
No timelines have been set for the hire of either vacancy.