Brackenridge hires bring new look to girls’ coaching staff

Brackenridge women’s sports have evolved over the past few months.

Caitlin Cote was hired as the new women’s basketball coach in April. More recently, two Northeast ISD rookies have held positions in volleyball and softball.

Wagner’s coach, Ariel Hill, was hired to lead the softball program in May. Roosevelt’s assistant coach, Kari Thrash, was hired June 15 and will be in charge of volleyball. With the three new coaches, the Brackenridge Girls’ coaching staff under Athletic Coordinator Sandra Apolinar has rejuvenated.

The first opening came when longtime women’s basketball coach Tamiko Matthews stepped down to take on an administrative role. Then softball coach Jonathan Rios moved to take up the same position in Somerset. Thrash has been hired to replace Karensa Horace, who only coached the Eagles last year.

“Kari was one of the strongest interviews I’ve done,” Norman said. “She blew us away on her interview, so we just rolled up and picked her.”

Thrash is a Texas State University alumnus who coached both volleyball and softball at Roosevelt. By mid-July, she had been working with her players for two weeks.

Brackenridge (10-18, 6-10) tied Lanier (8-23, 6-10) for fifth in District 27-5A last fall.

“We are thrilled to have her working with our daughters,” Norman said. “She started showing up in late May or early June. She taught them the basics. She begins to bring the girls into their individual skills. She takes the bull by the horns and runs with them.

Norman said Hill, who came on board for strength and conditioning sessions during the week of July 11, also came with a plan. In her first season as a coach, Wagner finished 1-19 overall and 0-14 in the highly competitive 27-6A district.

“Ariel is so motivated, I think she will be perfect for our girls,” said the athletic coordinator. “She had that time at Wagner, and I think she’ll get our program back on track.”

The Eagles, under freshman coach Rios, finished 6-19 overall and 6-10 in the 27-5A district, which tied them for sixth place with Memorial (6-14, 6 -10).

“My goal this year is definitely to create unity, to come together as a team,” said Hill, a Judson alumnus. “I think we will be able to compete, but I think establishing the (culture) will be most important moving forward.”

Rios said he was drawn to the Somerset job in part because of the community support and commitment to success in all sports. The Bulldogs (11-15, 4-4) qualified for the playoffs this spring as the fourth seed in the 29-4A district.

“It was a different opportunity,” said the former South San assistant coach. “South San was a one-school district. I liked this family atmosphere, where everyone grows together.

Rios sees a lot of potential among returning players at Brackenridge.

“They will have a lot of young talent coming back,” Rios said. “Five seniors have graduated, but I think this young core of girls will really succeed.”

Hill said her first impressions were that she had inherited a good group to work with.

“They are impatient, hungry and eager to learn,” she said. “I’m excited about what I’ve seen over the past few days.”