Brackenridge hires bring new look to girls coaching staff

Brackenridge girls sports have transitioned in the past few months.

Caitlin Cote was hired as the new girls basketball coach in April. More recently, a pair of hires from Northeast ISD have taken positions in volleyball and softball.

Wagner coach Ariel Hill was hired to head the softball program in May. Roosevelt assistant coach Kari Thrash was hired June 15 and will be in charge of volleyball. With the three new coaches, the Brackenridge girls coaching staff under the direction of athletic coordinator Sandra Apolinar has gotten younger.

The first opening occurred when longtime girls basketball coach Tamiko Matthews resigned to take an administrative position. Then softball coach Jonathan Rios moved over to take the same position at Somerset. Thrash was hired to replace Karensa Horace, who only coached the Eagles last year.

“Kari was one of the strongest interviews I’ve done,” Norman said. “She blew us away when she interviewed, so we just rolled and chose her.”

Thrash is a Texas State University alumnae who coached both volleyball and softball at Roosevelt. As of mid-July, she had been working with her players for two weeks.

Brackenridge (10-18, 6-10) tied Lanier (8-23, 6-10) for fifth place in District 27-5A last fall.

“We’re excited for her to work with our girls,” Norman said. “She started showing up in the end of May or early June. She has been teaching them the basics. She’s starting to get the girls into their individual skills. She’s taking the bull by the horns and running with them.”

Norman said Hill, who came onboard for the strength and conditioning sessions during the week of July 11, also has come in with a plan. In her first season as a coach, Wagner finished 1-19 overall and 0-14 in highly competitive District 27-6A.

“Ariel is so motivated, I think she’ll be perfect for our girls,” the athletic coordinator said. “She’s had that time at Wagner, and I think she’ll get our program back on track.”

The Eagles, under first-year coach Rios, finished 6-19 overall and 6-10 in District 27-5A, which tied them for sixth place with Memorial (6-14, 6-10).

“My goal this year definitely is creating unity, coming together as a team,” said Hill, a Judson alum. “I do think we’ll be able to compete, but I think establishing the (culture) is going to be most important to move forward.”

Rios said he was attracted to the Somerset job, in part, because of the community support and commitment to success in all sports. The Bulldogs (11-15, 4-4) qualified for the playoffs this spring as the fourth seed from District 29-4A.

“It was a different opportunity,” the former South San assistant coach said. “South San was a one-school district. I liked that family atmosphere, where everyone rises up together.”

Rios sees a lot of potential among the returning players at Brackenridge.

“They will have a lot of young talent coming back,” Rios said. “Five seniors graduated, but I think that young core of girls will be really successful.”

Hill said her initial impressions are that she’s inherited a good group to work with.

“They’re eager, hungry and willing to learn,” she said. “I’m excited by what I’ve seen just over the last couple of days.”

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