Addie Mack admitted she had to do some soul-searching.
But after putting in a lot of thought, the career-long Ryan assistant coach accepted the vacant head volleyball coaching position at crosstown rival Guyer. Addie Mack
Mack, who was a varsity assistant under Ryan head coach Cindy Williams for seven seasons, takes over for Jennifer Bramlett, who resigned as Guyer's head coach to take a job as the assistant club director for the Dallas Force.
"It's hard on the heart," Mack said. "Your heart belongs to Ryan because that's your home and that's where you've been your entire career, but Guyer is an incredible place and program and it's an opportunity I couldn't pass up. That's how I made my decision to cross that border."
Mack, who played as an outside hitter and middle blocker for TWU from 1999-2002, will take over a young Guyer team that suffered some growing pains in the Lady Wildcats' first season as a Class 5A program in 2010.
Guyer won just four games in District 7-5A play - two wins apiece over Saginaw and Keller Fossil Ridge - but did so with a team full of youth and promise.
The Lady Wildcats will return eight seniors, led by kills leader Sarah Simpson, fellow two-year starter Macy Ayulo and setter Ashley Stensgard. But Guyer often had two freshmen and many sophomores on the floor last season.
Freshmen Madison Walford and Madeline Mayer will join sophomores Kasey Nicholson, Sylvia Nwiba and Emily Gorr among those with a year of varsity experience, and Mack said she's ready to continue what Bramlett started with the group.
"That is really exciting," Mack said. "That means I have talent I can work with and I can pull from all levels. With them having the experience of being on varsity, it's something that is so important in their development. I'm looking forward to those freshmen that are returning and knowing that they have that experience.
"Jenn has done such an incredible job with the girls and training them. She has a lot of the same philosophies I do. It makes the transition easier for me to come in and step in. The girls aren't going through that much of a culture shock."
Guyer athletic coordinator John Walsh said Mack was an easy choice for the job based on, if nothing else, her vibrant personality.
"Her personality just stood out," Walsh said. "You can tell she's a great communicator. She's building her program, but she's also taking over a good one and she answered all the transition questions great."
Before the Lady Wildcats' struggles this past season, there had been a lot of success on the volleyball court for Guyer.
Bramlett's teams won two straight district championships and went to the regional semifinals in 2007, all while having some epic battles with Ryan.
Mack said last year's struggles for Guyer will hopefully help her team in the coming seasons.
"I know that it's a challenge [in Class 5A] and that slap in the face last year was a good thing for them, so they realize how hard they're gonna have to work for us to be successful in 5A," she said. "I am looking forward to the challenge. I know the kind of work it takes for them to reach the level I want them to reach and what I'm pretty sure they want for themselves."
Mack gave credit to Williams for helping her reach this point in her career.
"She's prepared me in so many ways," Mack said. "I have been really blessed to be under her for the entire time frame, because she has taught me how to run a practice, how to be organized with everything and how to set expectations. She's been a true mentor. That's why I'm confident enough to come take this position as a head coach."
As for Mack trading in the red and blue for black and silver as the first coach to go from one school to another since Guyer's opening, Walsh said the rivalry isn't quite what it used to be.
"I think it would be uncomfortable if we were in the same classification, and it might be if we get back to the same one, but right now that rivalry intensity isn't there," Walsh said. "It might come back in her tenure. When we had to find a new volleyball coach we wanted to start within the district, and when we interviewed Addie, it was a no-brainer. She was good."
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.