By Michael Kinney
The Moore American
MOORE — It was just time, according to Chad Mashburn. That is how the Moore High athletic director described the departure of two of the Lions’ coaches over the last couple of months.
Gone are girls basketball coach Tim Gray and swimming coach Rhonda Nelson. While several factors went into their departures, athlete development and competitive success were areas Mashburn looked at when making these decisions.
“I’m not going to sit here and say that’s not a factor,” Mashburn said. “Because ultimately, it is. But you have to look at everything. I don’t believe in these two situations, that was the reason. But being new to this, you have to look at every aspect of everything.
“You have to look at where the program is, what’s the program accomplishing, if the kids are getting better, how they are competing, the attitude of those kids, what they are saying about the teams they are on.”
Gray took over the girls’ basketball team in 2007. In his six years at Moore, the Lions racked up a 19-124 record. This past season, Moore went 3-20, including an 87-19 loss and a 101-18 defeat at the hands of rival Southmoore.
“We made the decision late March, early April,” Mashburn said. “We brought him in and made the decision. He was surprised. He had put a lot of hard work into it. I understand his loyalty here … The things that he’s done, the character he’s built with these girls has been something really cool and neat to see. But we just felt like it was time.”
In the past Gray had commented several times about the challenge involved in trying to make the Moore girls competitive at the Class 6A level. Even though he tried to change the attitude and mindset around the program, he was never able to see that translate into wins on the court.
“Obviously coach Gray did an awesome job working with our girls,” Mashburn said. “And he did lots of great things with them. It just came to the point where we felt like we need a change. It’s never easy.”
Concerning the swim team, the change is an attempt to get the squad back to its former glory.
“You want to build programs and our program was struggling a little bit,” Mashburn said. “We’ve had some really good swimming programs in the past and teams that have done well. We are going to compete, we’’re going to win. We’re going to do all those things that we need to do. We felt it was time for a change.”
Both Gray and Nelson were removed from their posts at the end of the school year. Their replacements have already been hired.
Trey Taunton was hired in June as the new swim coach after being an assistant at Westmoore.
“He’s been in district for a couple of years,” Mashburn said. “Been working with the Westmoore swim program. He brings a passion to the program the kids are going to feed off of. That’s huge.”
Rhonda Fields will take over the girls’ basketball team. Her experience spans 30 years with stints at Jenks, Stillwater, Chickasha and Sulphur. She has amassed a 489-306 record
“She’s taking the right steps to change the program,” Mashburn said. “Every program that she has stepped into, she has taken them to the state tournament … Every place she’s been, she’s changed that program for the better. She is going to be a hall of fame coach. You can’t pass up on somebody like that.”
Along with Deidra Raider being named the volleyball coach, it has been a busy offseason for Mashburn. But he hopes the changes that have been made signals a new direction for the Lions.
With the way the Moore Schools District transfer policy is set up, if Moore doesn’t want to continue to loose kids to Westmoore and Southmoore, Mashburn knows they have to shows kids and parents that the Lions are serious about succeeding on all fronts.
“We want all our kids that are in our district to come to Moore High school,” Mashburn said. “That’s our ultimate goal. Whether they play sports or don’t play sports. Academics here are huge. We take pride in that, just like we do our athletic program. But we want to win. We want to be the best we possibly can be. And we want to give the kids the opportunity to do that. If we have to make changes a long the way, that’s part of the job. No different for me in my position. If I’m not doing what I’ve been asked to do in my job description, they are going to replace me. Are we going to make changes along the way? Sure we are. Can’t sit here and say we’re not. Am I out to get everybody? No I’m not. But it was just time to make a change.”