Two of the men who helped build Ryan’s football program will be joining their former boss in his new endeavor.
Last week, the Denton school board approved Eric Lokey as the district’s assistant athletic director. Lokey was an assistant coach under Denton school district athletic director and former Ryan football coach Joey Florence for 11 of the past 12 years.
Lokey said it was bittersweet to clean off his desk and pack up boxes filled with trinkets from his time as a coach but that he’s ready for a new challenge.
“I’m excited about the opportunity, and I’m looking forward to getting involved with all those teams and all those schools and becoming a Denton ISD fan,” Lokey said. “I’m looking forward to being a part of all of them.”
Lokey takes over for Buck Smith, who was the interim assistant athletic director after Russ Reeves left in February 2013 to become the Rockwall school district athletic director.
Smith also served as the stadium manager at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex. Former Ryan defensive coordinator David Thomas will take over those capacities.
After Reeves left for Rockwall, DISD wanted the new district athletic director taking over for Ken Purcell to be able to hire his own assistant athletic director. Not long after Florence was hired in January after 14 years as Ryan’s head coach, Lokey and Thomas followed.
Lokey has been a coach for 26 years. He had stops at Plano, Rockwall, Mabank and Princeton, where he was a head coach and athletic director in 2000 and 2001 before returning to Ryan for 11 of the past 12 years. The only break in that was when he was an assistant coach at Stephen F. Austin.
Ryan’s former defensive line coach is coming off his second defeat of cancer. Lokey was diagnosed with Stage IV renal cell carcinoma last summer. The cancer caused him to miss one game during his 26 years of coaching. As of early April, he was cancer-free.
Prior to Lokey’s hire, the position mainly coordinated middle school athletics. Florence said Lokey’s role will be much broader in scope.
“It’s going to be a true assistant athletic director job,” Florence said. “He’s going to help me in evaluating all of our sports and still running our junior high sports. It’s a high-ranging job that still has a lot of responsibilities to it.”
Lokey will have some company joining him from the Ryan fieldhouse. Thomas was a defensive coordinator for 32 years and joined Florence in 2000 when he was named the Ryan head coach.
Florence lauded Thomas’ work ethic and said Thomas and Lokey will be tremendous assets. The main pieces that helped build Ryan’s football program have merely moved to offices across town, something Florence doesn’t mind at all.
“It’s certainly good to have guys that I’ve worked with, because there will be some continuity,” Florence said. “They know what direction they want to take this thing, so I’m excited.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.