When Josh Welch’s name came up on a long list of applicants for the vacated boys basketball head coaching job at Lake Dallas, athletic director Scott Head’s eyes got a little bit bigger.
Welch led Fort Worth Arlington Heights to the Class 4A Region I final in March, losing by three points to Ryan, and is two years removed from a trip to the state tournament in his final year as an assistant coach.
Before Welch and his fellow coaches got to Arlington Heights, the Yellow Jackets had gone 30 years without a playoff appearance, and that caught Head’s attention.
“We had a bunch of applicants, and some really good ones,” Head said. “Josh is a perfect fit for us. These kids need a little shot in the arm. He’s got some skins on the wall that I think they’ll buy into. I just believe he can turn it around for us.”
Welch replaces Matthew Kloske, who left to accept a position as an assistant coach at Flower Mound Marcus.
In his five seasons at Arlington Heights — the first four as an assistant — the Yellow Jackets made the playoffs three straight years — first going three rounds deep, then to the state tournament and finally to the regional final last season.
“There’s no doubt I see some similarities [between Lake Dallas and Arlington Heights],” Welch said. “I think we have the capability of doing it as long as the kids buy in and play hard and learn how to win. They haven’t been successful, but they have to learn how to win and not accept losing.”
The Falcons have struggled on the hardwood for years, with their last playoff appearance coming in the 2005-06 season when they were the third seed out of District 9-4A and lost to Dallas Spruce in the first round.
Since then, Lake Dallas has struggled to win games in district play due to some hard luck and a sheer lack of numbers in the basketball program — while school programs such as football and baseball have enjoyed a lot of success.
“I think we have the ability to be a good team,” Welch said. “When you look at the programs there, the football team is successful, the volleyball team is, the baseball team is. There’s no reason Lake Dallas shouldn’t be successful in basketball.”
Head said he believes Welch can carry over the school’s winning tradition to the hardwood.
“I just don’t know what has chased the kids away,” Head said. “Our success in football has kept a lot of kids out there. That’s been trouble for us. Kids like to win, and a lot of kids just stick with football or go straight baseball and I think basketball has been shunned a little bit. I think [Welch] can bring those kids out and form a pretty successful team.”
Welch said the newest realignment will help his transition, with powerhouse teams such as Ryan and The Colony no longer in the picture. Added are teams like Trophy Club Byron Nelson and Guyer, which returns to Class 4A after two seasons at the 5A level.
“It’s changed up from last year,” Welch said. “They had some heavy hitters last year with Ryan and The Colony, but they’re actually moving into a district that could be up for the taking in basketball. Byron Nelson is going to be a very good team and there’s going to be some other good teams. I think if the guys come in and work hard, though, we could do some special things.”
Welch stressed the importance of his players buying into what he’s selling in order to see a change of fortunes.
“They have to have a work ethic,” Welch said. “If you’re working hard, good things happen. That’s what we want to teach them, not just for basketball but for life. If you work hard, you’re going to be successful. We want to strive to be above average in the classroom, on the court and outside the court. That’s what I really want to instill in these kids.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .