The Paris School District did not have to look long for the replacement to fill the vacancy when Dustin Williams resigned the Head Coaching job for the Paris Lady Eagles. Donald Hart has been working with the ladies since returning to workouts, and can now do it knowing he will be the new Head Coach this winter. If the name sounds familiar, it is because Hart also coaches the Lady Eagles Softball team that has been district champions and state title contenders in his short tenure.
Hart was a standout athlete at Magazine while attending school there. Though he didn’t play on strong teams, he still managed all-district and all-region honors three years. He focused on the defensive part of his game, once finishing third in the state in rebounding, still averaging double figures scoring.
This will be Hart’s first time as a head coach, though he coached in travel ball with his four daughters. He has also served as an assistant for three years and was on the bench, clipboard in hand, as his oldest two-starred for the Lady Eagles a year ago. Jadyn, who will be a senior this season, carried much of the scoring a year ago, but the size with Jacee, who will be a junior, will fit well with the incoming talent. Paris lost few from last season and has a very talented group coming up from the junior high ranks. “Williams left the program in good shape,” says Hart.
Look for the Lady Eagles to become more diverse in Hart’s system. For the last several years, Paris has been blessed with one or two scorers that carried the program. Hart wants to emphasize the defensive aspect of the game and see more high-low ball movement to open up the outside game. Athletic Director Casey Maner said that the proven methods of implementing work ethic and accountability seen from Hart should make an immediate impact. “The kids know what to expect. They aren’t starting over, and he will have buy-in from the start.”
The numbers are up considerably. Many games over the last three years, Paris dressed eight or fewer players. While the junior high roster needs to grow, and very well could if daughters Karsen and Saylor join the ranks, the senior high program is going to look significantly stronger. “We expect to win games with our senior high program. We should have the depth and talent, and we will focus on the intensity.”
One key that Hart feels needs to happen is the return of the “B” games, usually listed as JV today. Getting players to try the game and get a chance to compete can build programs.
During the summer quarantine restrictions, Hart is sharing a lot of athletes with the volleyball program. The workouts are a single person using their own ball, and passing drills are solo, against a wall. As for the workload, Hart says the practice time commitment won’t change. He was already an assistant, so he was putting in the hours with both sports. The difference will be the added time in-game preparation and practice preparations.
If history has shown us anything, Hart knows how to motivate his players and develop a winning program that can reload year after year. Expect for the Lady Eagles to play an intense and disciplined style when the season rolls around.