By JUSTIN RAINS
It didn’t take new Cayuga athletic director Russell Holden long to begin filling spots within his coaching staff.
Holden, who was officially named the Wildcat athletic director May 20, picked up former Palestine softball and Grapeland boys’ basketball and softball coach J.J. Johnson to lead the Wildcat basketball program.
Johnson was officially approved by the Cayuga ISD school board at Monday’s meeting.
“J.J. was the guy I knew I wanted from Day 1. He’s just got such a great reputation in the community,” Holden said. “He did a great job at Grapeland and I knew that if I could get him over here to Cayuga, it would be a huge boost for our program.”
Johnson leaves Palestine after only one year as the head softball coach. He said that his love for coaching basketball led him to Cayuga.
“When I came to Palestine with softball, I thought it was best for my family, but I missed basketball,” he said. “It wasn’t evident until the year got going. That’s where my heart is, and I started missing it really bad.”
Johnson takes over the boys’ basketball program at Cayuga from former athletic director Greg Jenkins, who is leaving the district for a job within the Tenaha ISD athletic department.
Jenkins and Cayuga won the 2010 state basketball title, and made consecutive trips to the regional tournament in 2011 and 2012.
The Wildcats graduated a lot of talent from their 2012-2013 team, including University of Hartford-signee Preston Anderson and all-district performer Deon Shofner.
But, Johnson still sees the makings of a solid program.
“I think Coach Jenkins had a good foundation set up there,” Johnson said. “There is some talent around there as well. When you look at Preston Anderson and others, they kind of overshadowed these other kids. There is a foundation there that I’m excited about.”
Along with his duties as the head boys’ basketball coach, Johnson will be an assistant varsity football coach and either assist in baseball or softball.
Along with the hiring of Johnson, the Cayuga board approved hirings to fill Cayuga’s other two head coaching vacancies.
Dennis McAdams will take over the baseball program from principal Greg Branch. A former Dallas ISD coach and director, McAdams currently lives in the Cayuga area. He will also assist in some capacity with football, Holden said.
Holden also brought in John Jackson to lead the girls’ basketball program following the departure of Tommy Cross to Lipan.
Jackson was last the coach in Ozona, but has coached in Grand Saline and Kirbyville and is originally from the Mount Enterprise area.