Will Kollett

If you do something once, people will call it an accident. If you do it twice, people may call it a coincidence. But a third time makes it a tradition.

That's what recently-hired Will Kollett hopes to establish with the Grapeland Sandiettes basketball team this year.

The Sandiettes have advanced to the girl's state tournament in each of the past two seasons. First under Antony DeCello in 2018-19 and then again with Robert Payne in 2019-20.

DeCello led the Sandiettes to the Class 2A championship games before falling to Martin's Mill. The Sandiettes returned to the state semifinals under Payne this past season but were eliminated by eventual state champion Gruver.

Kollett looks to make Grapeland's third time a charm.

“I'm excited,” Kollett said. “ When I heard the opening was there I knew I had to shoot my shot. I grew up around the area. Playing basketball, boys and girls, you always knew about Grapeland. You knew about their reputation. Even last year, I was amazed at how good their team was. I'm thankful to coach such a good group of girls.”

Kollett is a 2013 graduate of Broaddus High School, where he played under his stepfather Darren Cook.

After attending Austin College, Kollett's first coaching opportunity came in 2017 when he took over midseason for his mother, Tammye Cook, as interim head girls basketball coach at Broaddus. He was promoted to head coach the next season.

He then left is alma Mata to become the head boys basketball coach at Cushing High School last year.

Cushing went 14-17 this past season.

Now, Kollet comes full circle back to the girls' side to oversee a program that has a first-team All-East Texas selection in Teira Jones, along with 63 games won the past two seasons.

“Teira is special,” Kollet said. “This team is ready. They feel like they'll be comfortable in any environment and compete against the best. They're hardworking. They want it. I'm excited.”

Among the excitement is transitioning to a new program in the wake of a global health pandemic. Admittedly, it hasn't been the easiest of moves. Fortunately, Kollett has had his eyes on the Sandiettes way before he officially accepted his new role.

“I had been scouting this team for the possibility of playing them in the playoffs,” Kollett said while he was the head girls coach at Broaddus. “I went to San Antonio to watch them play. I know a lot more about them than they think I do.”

Kollet will also be the new head volleyball coach at Grapeland, which will be an “adventure” for him.

Though he hasn't coached or played the game before, he was able to absorb the game from his mother – who was a good volleyball player in her own right. He also leans on his coaching staff to help him transition into newfound territory.

“My assistant coaches have been great helping me transition into this,” Kollett said. “It's going to be a team effort. I'm already excited to be working with our staff. I feel confident in this volleyball season.”

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