Cote departs Jefferson to lead girls hoops at Brackenridge

Caitlin Cote is transitioning from one of the most-successful District 27-5A girls basketball programs to another, as well as making the jump from assistant coach to head coach.

Cote, who has been a Jefferson assistant the past three years, accepted the top job at Brackenridge in early April. She replaced Eagles interim coach Amber Aguilar, who coached the second half of the 27-5A season after nine-year Brackenridge coach Tamiko Matthews became an academic dean at Brack.

“I think what attracted me the most was the community at Brack,” Cote said. “I think it has a good parent system and a good young core (of players). I just thought it was a good opportunity in the district.”

Cote, a New Braunfels Canyon alumnae, was an assistant to her college teammate Natasha Benavides for the last three seasons at Jefferson. They helped Texas Lutheran University win a conference championship and qualify for the NCAA Division III Tournament.

She served as interim girls track coach this spring after longtime cross country and track coach Melissa Palomo stepped down.

“It’s hard to leave the Jefferson community,” Cote said. “The parents, kids, staff and coaches are amazing. They were some of the most successful kids I’ve ever coached and taught. I was lucky to work under Natasha to build the program. Natasha let me do a lot and gave me a voice.”

Matthews, a Brackenridge alumnae, guided the Eagles to six playoff appearances and three bi-district titles. Her teams had a five-year playoff run between 2015-16 and 2019-20.

She said that giving up her basketball coaching position was the hardest decision she had made as an educator.

In addition to her new duties as academic dean, Matthews continues as the social studies department chair (for the 10th year when the 2022-23 school year begins) and a member of a master teacher group. Those responsibilities meant she was unable to continue as basketball coach.

“It took a lot of prayer and a lot of tears to make the decision,” Matthews said. “But being a mentor and coach to teachers, I’m able to benefit many more kids. It was hard, but at the end of the day, I made the right decision.”

Despite the on-court successes Matthews said, as a product of the Eagles program, the most-rewarding element of returning as a coach was to see what her current and former players accomplished in life.

“The hardest thing about walking away from the kids was that growth that you had in front of you,” she said. “Being a former Lady Eagle myself, I’ve just tried to instill those tenets of hard work, perseverance and belief in yourself. I wanted them to know they could do anything, because of what they’ve done in practices and games.”

Cote will inherit three seniors, two juniors and two sophomores with varsity experience. Because of ties to Jefferson, she was not able to see them in summer league action until the week of June 6, so she focused on team-building first.

Cote likes the mix of young players and experience. She has been impressed by their hard work, chemistry and aggressive defense.

“We have a strong core,” Cote said. “We want to make the playoffs this year and win the district in the next couple of years. I have a couple of girls that have aspirations to play in college, and I want to prepare them, but my ultimate goal is for the team to be successful.”

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