COACHES OF THE MONTH SPOTLIGHTS
Each month, the Eagle Mountain Saginaw ISD Athletic Department will recognize a coach for his/her accomplishments in the classroom, on the field, and in the community. The recipient will receive a coupon for a free chicken biscuit or chicken minis, and a plush cow courtesy of Chick-Fil-A. "Our coaches work hard on the field and in the classroom with our students and student-athletes," Athletic Director Brent Barker said. "We wanted to recognize them for their hard work and dedication to EMS ISD Athletics and thank you to Chick-fil-A Saginaw for sponsoring this."
Chisholm Trail Head Cross Country/Girls Track and Field Coach Joseph Gifford is the October Spotlight Coach of the Month. Coach Gifford is in his first year as a Ranger, coming to EMS ISD from Peaster ISD. “It’s very nice to be recognized by your peers,” Coach Gifford said. “It’s been a tough year, I’m just thankful and honored that they would think of me.” In his first year at the helm, Gifford led the Ranger Boys Cross Country Team to a third place finish, and the girls team who featured a lot of young talent, took fourth at districts. “These kids did everything I asked of them, and what I know I’ve learned from the best,” he said.” He credits everything he knows to Rebekah James at Canyon Randall, who just led her team to a Regional Championship and to Sean Hargrove, who was at Amarillo Tascosa before moving to Amarillo College to coach cross country. “My dad always taught me not to reinvent the wheel,” he said. “These people are very successful, and I’ve learned so much from them that has helped me along the way.” The Rangers won’t lose very many seniors, and Coach Gifford commented how three of the top five girls are freshmen. A few of those are multi-sport athletes, so cross country will help them in their other sports. Advancing to the regional meet, six of the seven boys that ran set a personal record on a notoriously tough course in Lubbock. “Angel Hernandez was definitely looking down and was with us that day,” Coach Gifford said. Next up is track, where Gifford will team up with Head Boys Coach Delt Cockrell, as they continue to build upon the successes from prior years. They both have similar coaching philosophies, and the excitement is in the air. “Coach Gifford brings a ton of knowledge and energy with him each day,” Campus Coordinator Byron Bode said. “He is passionate about his work, and is good with kids.”
Chisholm Trail Head Swimming Coach Lance Cleveland is the recipient for the month of August. “Somebody sees something that I didn’t realize. I didn’t realize I was doing something that people thought was worthy of this award,” he said with a laugh. “But seriously, I am very grateful to receive this award. It really means a lot that they think this much of me.” Excitement is riding high for the 2023-24 Ranger swimmers. There is a plethora of freshman boys on the team this year, and he’s looking forward to seeing what his veteran group of girls can accomplish. “This group is committed, and they’ve looked really good so far this year,” he said. “We have some strong relay teams and are strong in the breaststroke. I am looking forward to watching to see what else pops with our new swimmers, and how the new and returners work together.” The swimming team will kick off their season on Sept. 30 at the Fossil Ridge Relays in Keller. They’ll swim in a few different meets that they haven’t swam in before like the Arlington Invitational in mid-October, while still competing at familiar places like the Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center, and the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Natatorium. In December, will be the second ever EMS ISD tri meet against sister schools Boswell, and Saginaw which will also serve as their senior night. “Coach Cleveland is a loyal team player who steps up in serving the Chisholm Trail Community,” Head Coach Byron Bode said. “He is dependable and willing to assist in any way he can.”