Once a coach, always a coach.
Those were the words of Athens High School Principal Keith Durrett when he made the announcement Tuesday morning that he was stepping down as Athens High School principal, and going back into coaching.
The LaPoynor Independent School District hired Durrett as girls’ basketball coach last Friday at a special-called meeting.
“I love the Athens School District,” Durrett said. “I am not at all upset or unhappy about anything. I’m just a basketball coach. I figure I’ve got about 10 years left to try and win a state title, and that’s the only trophy I don’t have on my wall.”
LaPoynor Superintendent Dr. B. L. Davis said he was really shocked to see Durrett’s name among the applications he received.
“When I saw Coach Durrett’s name among the applications, I didn’t know what to think,” Davis said. “There are not many times that you see an administrator go back into coaching. I wasn’t sure if something might have happened at Athens, or just what the case was.”
Davis said Durrett assured him that there were no problems at Athens, and that he just decided he wanted to coach, and finish his career doing what he loved.
“This is a huge blow to us,” Athens Superintendent Dr. Fred Hayes said. “I really hate to lose him, but I understand he has to do what he loves. Good principals are very hard to find. They have to be able to work well with both teachers and students. Keith was able to do that. He has been a model administrator.”
Durrett was first hired in Athens in 2006 as girls basketball coach, and served for three years. All three years he took the Lady Hornets to the state playoffs. Two of those years they reached the Regional Quarterfinals. He finished with a record of 65-32 in his three years at Athens.
In July, 2007, Athens ISD named him athletic director, where he served for two years. In 2008, the district added to his duties, and named him assistant principal. In June of 2009 he was promoted to high school principal.
“I just love kids, and the kids here at Athens are the best anywhere,” Durrett said. “I just didn’t enjoy the role of principal. I’m a coach, and I really learned that this year. You can reach more kids in the principal position, but I just wasn’t happy. I really want to win a state title, and I think we have a chance to do that at LaPoynor.”
Before coming to Athens, Durrett served as a basketball coach at Bryan Adams High School in Dallas, a 5A school. In his one season at Bryan Adams, his team finished second in district, the first time the high school had made the playoffs in nine years.
He was subsequently named the District 9-5A Co-Coach of the Year.
He previously served as head coach for Alto, Rusk, Hempstead, Hardin Jefferson and Rio Vista. His team was a state semi-finalist at Hempstead, and at Rio Vista he won five district titles and was a 5-time winner of District Coach of the Year accolades.
His teams at Rio Vista made the regional tournament twice.
“He came down here Monday, and met with the girls during their athletic period,” Davis said. “I spoke with some of them after the meeting, I can tell they really like him. He is going to do a great job.”
Durrett said he will also teach a math class as part of his duties.
Hayes said AISD will start looking from within first to try and find Durrett’s replacement. He said Durrett is scheduled to have knee surgery this month, so the school is in the hands of the assistant principals.
“He had already scheduled his surgery for this month,” Hayes said. “It takes about six weeks to heel from that type of surgery, so he is pretty much finished for the year. It’s always better to hire from within if you have someone who is qualified because you know them. We’ll look there first.”