When I sat down to chat with Lake Highlands High School’s new head coach Lonnie Jordan Thursday, just after he met his new coaching staff and team, he was grinning from ear to ear.
“To me, this is the premier job in the state of Texas,” he told me. “Lake Highlands is a very special place to me.”
“The opportunity to come here and work with the faculty and administration and the chance to work with these tremendously special kids is a dream come true,” explained Jordan, who served as LHHS’ offensive coordinator from 2007-10. “To have the opportunity to come back and be a part of something that was very special is a thrill for me and my family.”
Jordan was head coach last year for the high school in Lone Oak, where he now lives with wife Laura, son Nathan (7th grade), son Andy (6th grade), and daughter Ellie (4th grade). They are already working with a realtor, he said, to move closer to Lake Highlands.
I asked what Jordan had learned since LH saw him last.
“Going to McKinney High School with Jeff Smith, the defensive coordinator here, gave me an opportunity to be more involved in the administrative side as the assistant head coach. It had always been X’s and Ox for me, but this allowed me to take part in planning the budget and working with the booster club and having a role outside of just football. Going to Lone Oak allowed me to see, for the first time, all sides of athletics. Not just football, but volleyball, girls’ basketball, softball, baseball – all sports – and how they all work together. I got to experience the passion that people have for their sport which, for me, was like a lightbulb going on. I have to honor that passion. As a young man, I was very passionate about football, but now I can truly say, after McKinney and Lone Oak and those experiences in an administrative setting, that I am passionate about all competition and all sports.”
And are his children athletes?
“Nathan plays football, basketball and track in 7th grade,” Jordan told me. “The other two aren’t in sports yet. They’re waiting until junior high.”
Parents in LH like to be involved, I reminded him. Very involved. Good thing or bad thing?
“That is absolutely a positive,” said Jordan. “There are great people here. People in Lake Highlands are very passionate about their kids and their community and they love tradition, so it’s very important for that to not only be recognized but cultivated. Lake Highlands wouldn’t be the Lake Highlands it is without the parental support and the people that are excited to pitch in and be a part of it.”
But can Jordan, who lifted his Lone Oak Buffaloes from 7-4 contender to 9-2 dynamo in just one year, return Wildcat football to a winning program?
“Yes,” he quickly answered, “but that will be from the inside out with these kids. We’re going to talk to them about character, and we’re going to change the way they think, and we’re going to change the way they make decisions, and we’re going to change the way they think about discipline, and we’re going to turn these kids into disciplined-thinkers. As a result of that, we’re going to find that the athletic ability is here, but it just comes down to learning what it takes to be a champion. That includes what it takes to be a champion in our decision-making and in the hallway and in the classroom. That’s what Lake Highlands was built on when they won the State Championship in 1981 – they were very focused in the way they carried themselves, in the way they played the game, in the people that they were.
“We’re looking to get there, and we will.”
Jordan officially begins his new job today, Monday. We can see him coaching on the sidelines at the annual Red White Game, tentatively set for Saturday, May 2 at 1 p.m., although the coach said his team will confer to confirm a game date in the coming days. Go Cats!