At Lower Richland, the Diamond Hornets are preparing for a successful 2012-13 athletics season, beginning with two new appointments to the athletics staff.
Bob Matz, who began his career at Lower Richland from 1989 to 2001, returns as athletics director; 22-year veteran coach Willie Thomas takes the helm of the Diamond Hornets’ boys basketball program.
“We’ve got two gentlemen that are going to help the kids and the school immensely,” principal Kelvin Wymbs said. “The tradition here is that athletics have always been strong and I’m looking forward to both of these men working with our program to continue that.”
Both will begin their duties in June.
“I guess I call it home, and I’m excited to be back here,” said Matz, who spent the past few years as Spring Valley softball coach before deciding last year to focus on administration.
“I bring in consistency and the experience to develop a full athletics program,” said Matz, who is the Diamond Hornets’ fourth athletics director in five years. Matz replaces interim athletics director Gianna Gardner, who led the program for the past two years.
Matz looks forward to working with longtime Diamond Hornets staffers such as track and field coach Michael Steward and girls basketball coach Debbie Stroman, “but I’m also going to be the support system that our new coaches need to strengthen all of our sports,” he said.
Thomas, who was 62-53 in the past five seasons at Lake City, hopes he will have much of that support as he looks to improve on the Diamond Hornets’ Class 3A Lower State semifinalist finish of 2012.
“This is a little different than all the other programs that I’ve come into, which were mediocre or not very great. But here, we’re supposed to be the basketball school, so it’s a different job,” Thomas said.
“The only thing that I can promise is that they will work hard,” he said. “I want to show these basketball players what it’s like to work hard for something, and for them to see the payoff of their effort. I hope the community will give me and these guys time to take advantage of what we’re trying to give them, to see what they can do.”
Reach Nelson at (803) 771-8419.