After seven years as head girls’ soccer coach at Lake Highlands High School, coach, teacher and Lake Highlands alumna Misty Benson is moving on to raise up a new generation of female soccer players at Lovejoy High School this fall.

It’s been awhile since we’ve connected with Misty Benson. (She graduated from Lake Highlands in ‘96, and we featured her in this archived Advocate cover story from 2011.)

Last week she generously took the time to share her reflections on her seven years of coaching and teaching at Lake Highlands — just after celebrating her one-year wedding anniversary with her husband, Wildcat football coach Judd Smith, in Mexico.

When did you tell your team that this was your last year at Lake Highlands?

I told my girls I was leaving with about two weeks left of school. It was the hardest and most emotional decision I have ever made, and therefore an extremely tough conversation.

What was their response?

It was a tearful response. Some were in shock, others in disbelief, a few were angry, and a few more with a mixture of feelings.

What prompted the move to Allen?

One of the things I love and do well is rebuilding and developing. My (successor) has hit the jackpot between the amazing girls at Lake Highlands and a talented assistant coach. Now I have the opportunity to rebuild and develop at Lovejoy High School — a relatively young, up-and-coming school and program. There is a lot of potential in the program and it’s an opportunity for me to continue learning and stretching myself.

As head coach at LH you coached the JV and Varsity teams and taught English. Will you do that at Lovejoy too?

It will be the same at Lovejoy, plus I will run the middle school program. I believe I will teach English still too, though I’m not 100% sure which level at this time.

What are some of your most memorable LH coaching moments?

I have enjoyed so many great memories throughout my career, most of them being from Lake Highlands. My team several years ago was an unexpected surprise to most — garnering national rankings and a trip to the regional tournament — and this year my girls went from second-to-last place to second place in a year. I have never laughed as much as I did this year or said “hashtag” as much. Our mottos/themes were #blessed, #family, and #roadtostate.

What helped contribute to your coaching success at Lake Highlands?

My assistant coach, Christina Fuller (recently named teacher of the year for Richardson ISD), was with me for four years and we were a well-oiled machine that complimented each other’s styles perfectly. Kaitlyn Eidson, a recent SMU grad and former captain for the Lady Mustangs, came in as a volunteer assistant coach with Christina and I two years ago. She has offered youth and fresh ideas to further the program’s growth. Both young ladies impacted me not just professionally, but personally, and that is something I am extremely grateful for.

As an English teacher at LHHS, what was one of your most memorable teaching moments?

I have been blessed to teach hundreds of amazing students and watch many of them be the first in their family to attend college. My students overcame all odds (such as homelessness, loss of a parent, and abuse) which has provided me with humility and gratitude. I feel lucky to know them.

What are you most excited about moving forward with this new coaching opportunity?

I enjoy a good challenge and I definitely have a few ahead of me. Developing and rebuilding is never easy, as it provokes change and change is not always easily adjusted to by all involved. However, in the words of Barney Stinson, (a popular character on the television show “How I Met Your Mother,”) “Challenge accepted!”