The Gonzales Apaches underwent some changes in the offseason, adding nine new coaches to the athletic program. Ranging from head coach down to assistant, the program hopes the additions made will elevate Gonzales to new heights.
Originally from Bandera, Christian Cruz joins the Apaches after stints as a graduate assistant at Sul Ross State University, his alma mater and as an assistant baseball and receivers coach in Alpine, then Crane, before making his way to Gonzales where he’ll be the head baseball coach.
Cruz is a first-generation college student who knew he always wanted to become a coach.
“I always wanted to coach — impact kids the way I was impacted as an athlete,” he said. “When I did get to college, I never strayed, I never changed degrees, I went straight to coaching.”
In order to elevate the Apache baseball program, the first-year head coach believes he has to focus on the fundamentals, laying down a foundation from the ground up.
“I’m going to take every kid like this is his first year of playing baseball,” Cruz explained. “We’re going to teach the fundamentals so that our baseball IQ can be a little higher than what it was last year or the year before so that we’re able to play the game without thinking too much. I think if kids can learn to play the game of baseball without thinking, it becomes more fun.”
The relationship William Brown has had with previous coaches is a big reason why he became a coach and why he decided to join athletic director Kodi Crane, who coached Brown in San Angelo.
Born and raised in San Angelo, Brown went on to play football at Angelo State University. Not wanting to leave the game, Brown continued his studies to eventually become a coach.
“It was always something where I couldn’t see myself getting away from football,” he said. “As I was going through college, nothing was coming about that I was interested in. But I found myself always having fun and enjoying football, even with the hard stuff came around like watching film or working out, it wasn’t really working out, I was with my friends, I was with my family. I wanted to keep continuing that.”
Brown named two coaches who were motivators for his career choice.
“Coach Harris, who recently passed away, and Coach Crane,” he said.
Harris, Brown said, was always about working hard, never about just athletic ability. Athletes need to put the work in. Meanwhile, Crane was “the guru,” Brown noted.
“Always the player’s coach,” he added. “He was always about ‘you’re there together and you’re a family.’”
Originally from Illinois, new coach Alec Paramski went to college in Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
There were a lot of factors into his decision to move to Texas.
“My dad owned a condo in Corpus Christi,” he said. “I also worked for his landscape company, snow plowing, and when I was in college we had 22 inches of snow one night. I worked three days straight, about 19-hour shifts, it was ridiculous, the snow was coming down hard, we had to stay out there. After that I was like, man, I’m too young to be doing this. I want to go and enjoy school.”
Paramski also had goals of wanting to become a football coach.
“The best place in the country is Texas for high school football,” he said. “So I decided to come down to Texas. I knew Texas was the place to be.”Brandon West
A graduate from San Angelo University, Brandon West began studying animal science, looking toward the hunting aspect, working on a ranch, etc. But as West went through college, he missed sports, and decided to switch to kinesiology to pursue a coaching career. When asked what clicked, West retold a story about watching his cousin play football.
“I kind have gotten away from the game,” he explained, “and just going and watching him, the team aspect, the camaraderie, from where I was at in school, you just didn’t have that really. And I think that only sports can really truly only do in a way that other things cant. That desire to get back to the game and working with kids, that was something I enjoyed, just teaching sports, no matter what it is.”
West’s multi-sport mentality matches with what the Apaches program want their athletes to achieve.
“If they are only in sports three months out of the year, I don’t think it’s great , he said. “They can help us so much in .”William Holifield
William Holifield was born in West Texas, but was raised in East Texas before graduating out of Texas A&M.
Coaching wasn’t on Holifield’s mind.
“When I first started out, coming out of college, I was in the business world,” he said. “I ended up coaching a little league baseball team and fell in love coaching there.”
Before this stint in Gonzales, Holifield coached in places such as College Station, Coldspring, Willis and Navasota.
The biggest thing Holifield wants to see this season is watch the athletes grow.
“We’re here for our athletes, and all the kids,” he said, “I want to see them grow and mature. I want them to know that they’re loved and they’re bound to do great things.”Doug Montgomery
Hailing from Flint, Mich., Doug Montgomery made his way down to Texas for many reasons, one of which he said, with a smile “it’s warm, and it’s a great place to live.”
Montgomery always wanted to be a coach, though he started out as a fireman, paramedic and police officer for many years before he made the switch to teaching and coaching.
“ just wanted to reach kids in a different way, instead of being negative as a police officer, wanted to reach kids in a positive atmosphere,” he said. “You teach kids there is positivity in life, so I made that transition.”
Although there are always aspirations of winning a state championship, Montgomery believes making a difference will always be the goal
“I think if you could just make a difference in a kid’s life, that’s the ultimate goal here,” he said. “I think any coach and teacher wants to make a difference.”Chris Martin
Born and raised in Aledo, Texas, new coach Chris Martin competed in just about any sport you can think of.
“Football, basketball, baseball, track, cross-country, soccer, you name it, I’ve played it,” he said.
Martin believes that a high school athlete should be one that participates in multiple sports.
“Nobody wants somebody who focuses on one sport,” the TCU grad explained. “Whenever you look at college athletes, a lot of them are multi-sport athletes in high school and I think it’s important to see how people compete with different teams.”
Martin uses his experience in sports to shape the way he wants to coach his kids on the field. Admittedly, he’s had some great coaches and some not-so-great coaches, but ultimately he’ll learn from their mistakes and successes in order to “help kids become better individuals,” as he describes it.Kassie Fincke
New head coach girls soccer Kassie Fincke brings to the program experience in not only coaching but in playing as well.
From Magnolia, Texas, Fincke played on an inaugural team in high school and was later recruited her senior year before attending East Central University in Ada, Okla. And playing as a freshman. Fincke would transfer to TLU to play a year and finish out her degree there.
“Soccer is definitely my thing,” the new head coach said. “I pretty much played everything and kind of narrowed it down as I became a junior and senior.”
Before taking on the head coach job in Gonzales, Fincke began her coaching career in Bellville before working in Seguin for a year.
Fincke is excited to start the soccer season. During the offseason, she has met with multiple athletes, noting she hasn’t “met a girl who I wasn’t impressed with yet.”
“That’s really exciting for me,” she continued, “every single girl that I’ve met has a great attitude. Everyone that I’ve seen in a sport whether it be volleyball xc has had a really good work ethic, that’s exciting for me.”Rachel Tucker
From Conroe, Rachel Tucker knew since seventh grade that she wanted to be in sports.
“I started sports in junior high and just fell in love with it,” she said. “I had some really great coaches along the way that helped me, took care of me like another parent. Just fell in love with it.”
Being a multi-sport athlete is important, Tucker believes, no matter what level of play an athlete may have.
“College coaches really like multi-sport athletes because the camaraderie on every team is different,” she explained, “so if you can have that mesh in several areas, then you’re a hot item. I encourage all my kids to go as many as you can fit in your schedule.”
Tucker looks forward to meshing with the Lady Apache athletic program, working with head girls basketball coach William Ramsey and head girls track and field coach Cully Doyle, using her expertise to further elevate the programs.