If Homewood’s track and field dynasty continues during the 2020-21 school year, it will be without coach Tom Esslinger.
Esslinger has been named the new Hewitt-Trussville track and field coach. He had coached Homewood’s track and field teams since 2005, winning 20 state championships. He was named the 2017 girls track and field national Coach of the Year.
Esslinger replaces 30-year veteran David Dobbs, who will continue to coach Hewitt’s cross-country team and assist Esslinger in track and field.
“I have such tremendous respect for coach Dobbs and the track and field program he built,” Esslinger said in a press release. “I am so excited for the opportunity to build on the momentum of the program and help Hewitt-Trussville athletes reach their full potential.
“I am extremely thankful to get the chance to be a part of the extraordinary athletic department, school and community in Trussville, and I can’t wait to meet the student-athletes and get to work.”
Esslingler is the son of legendary track coach John Esslinger, who won 46 state championships as the head cross-country and track and field coach at Scottsboro High School.
After Homewood swept the indoor track and field state championships earlier this year, Esslinger gave himself little chance of matching his dad’s titles.
“I don’t know if I can catch him,” he said. “I’d have to coach a long time, but I don’t think I’d go past 25 (years). But it’s been a fun ride so far, that’s for sure.”
Now, that ride will continue at Hewitt.
Halasz Takes Over Mountain Brook Girls Basketball Program
Sara Halasz has been hired as Mountain Brook High School’s varsity girls head basketball coach, the same position she has held at Pinson Valley High School for the past four seasons.
The Mountain Brook Board of Education approved her hiring May 18.
“Through the interview process, numerous meetings and extensive conversations with contacts within the basketball coaching community — both locally and nationally — we are confident that we have the right coach in Sara Halasz to direct our program,” MBHS Athletics Director Benny Eaves said in a statement.
Halasz played at the University of New Mexico from the 2008-09 year to the 2013-14 year, earning a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in the process. She tallied more than 1,000 points and 500 rebounds as a guard for the Lobos. Following her collegiate career, Halasz played professionally in Germany and the Czech Republic before she started coaching.
“I’m just super humbled and super thankful for the opportunity, and thankful for those who supported me along this journey,” Halasz said in the statement. “I can’t wait to get started in Mountain Brook.”
Eaves said coaches familiar with Halasz described her as “humble, incredibly hard-working, an engaging and encouraging teacher of the game, and a bright star in the coaching profession.”
Burkett Leaves Hoover for Athens
Charles Burkett, who coached Hoover to its only boys basketball state championship, is leaving the Bucs to become the head basketball coach at Athens High School.
“After the Athens coach, resigned I got a call from some people in (the) community that they would like me to take a look at it closely,” Burkett said in a news conference. “This opportunity came about and I took a look at it.”
Burkett came to Hoover in 2006 from Saks High School in Anniston. He coached Hoover for 14 seasons, compiling a 313-129 record and leading the Bucs to their only boys state title in 2015. He also led the Bucs to state tournament appearances in 2012 and 2019. Burkett has won 422 games in his career.
Mara Elevated to Head Football Coach at John Carroll
Will Mara will be the new head football coach at John Carroll Catholic High School.
Mara is a 2011 graduate of John Carroll and replaces Logan Colafrancesco, who compiled a 6-34 record in four seasons. The Cavaliers haven’t had a winning season since Chris Musso guided the team to a 6-4 record in 2010, winning only 14 games since.
Mara played baseball and football at John Carroll and had been an assistant football coach with the Cavaliers.
“I’m pumped,” Mara said during a news conference. “This has been a dream of mine since I was in high school. I’ve been a part of it for 15 years, going to back to playing middle school football. I’ve seen the ups and down and I’m excited to get to work.”
— Rubin E. Grant