If you follow athletics at Lake Highlands High School and you read my account of Coach Lonnie Jordan’s preview of the football season Tuesday, you may have scratched your head wondering about the Wildcats’ addition of new defensive coordinator Reid Waller. Waller comes with high praise from Jordan and a collection of state championships – but what happened to Judd Smith, popular defensive coordinator and assistant coach of the team?
Smith has taken a new position as strength and conditioning coach for LHHS and the entire feeder pattern. That means he’ll work with athletes at Forest Meadow and Lake Highlands Junior Highs, and he’ll keep up with the latest research on keeping athletes safe from injury, whether they participate in golf, tennis, wrestling, swimming, or the host of other programs at LH-area schools.
“It’s an entirely new position,” said Jordan. “We’re going to be on the cutting edge.”
Adding a full-time coach to build athletes able to withstand injury comes at a good time. Last year’s football team began the year with several highly-touted players, including quarterback Jakson Thomson, who signed to play Louisiana Tech this fall. He spent most of his senior year on the bench recovering from injuries, and he wasn’t alone.
Timing is also right, Jordan says, due to construction of LHHS’ Multipurpose Activity Center (MAC), an indoor workout facility for sports, dance, band and other student groups.
“We’re finally turning the corner with our facilities,” said Jordan. “We’re doing things Allen and Southlake Carroll are doing – not just in football, but every kid in Lake Highlands athletics will have the opportunity to work on strength and conditioning.”
During the construction phase, required adjustments have sometimes been frustrating. They’ll pay off soon, said Jordan.
“Those are big challenges, but when you look over your shoulder and you see that big thing going up, it’s inspiring. We know it’s going to be incredible – it’s a game changer for Lake Highlands in particular, sitting inside the (LBJ) loop, which sets us apart from other RISD schools. It’s going to be state-of-the-art, and it’s going to be a magnet. It’s going to help halt the transient nature of some of the athletes in our community – we need to keep our kids here. The MAC will attract kids that are leaving other districts. When they start looking for a place where they fit, our facility will draw them to us.”
MACs at each of the four RISD high schools were financed by $60 million in 2016 RISD bond funds. The LHHS MAC is expected to open in the spring of 2020.
“I’m sad for our seniors watching this thing go up,” added Jordan, “but by the time we have spring football, I think we’ll be in it.”