Weatherford High School’s new head softball coach Jeff Lemons knows a thing or two about the program he now leads.
Lemons was an assistant coach with Weatherford softball at the turn of the century, helping the Lady Roos finish as state finalists in 1999 before winning it all in 2000.
A 1983 graduate of Weatherford High School and member of the 1982 Roos baseball squad which finished as a state finalist, Lemons owns a long history of success with the blue and white both as a player and coach.
Coupled with back-to-back state softball titles in 2014 and 2015 at Aledo (where he coached at for 10 years before taking his current position), Weatherford’s new head softball coach now returns to his old stomping grounds with no shortage of success to show for his efforts.
“He’s been out of softball for a few years over at Aledo, but he took over the golf program and they’ve been in the state tournament, girls and boys,” Weatherford ISD Athletic Director Richard Scoggin said.
“So he’s had success wherever he’s been. His success goes all the way back to his playing days in high school. When you have that kind of success as a player and coach, you know what it takes.”
Lemons said several factors weighed into his decision to return, including a desire to take a more hands-on approach to coaching, something golf (which Lemons worked with at Aledo) does not lend itself to as much.
However, his biggest motivating factor came from his own family, Lemons said.
“There were a lot of things involved,” Lemons said.
“Obviously the history I have here, we had some really good times. It’s close to home, the new field is just an absolute palace.
“But the biggest thing is my daughter. She is going to be a freshman and she plays softball, so now I’ll get the opportunity to coach her for four years. I didn’t coach my son over at Aledo, he was on the swim team, but I was around for him for four years. And this gave me the opportunity to do the same for her, plus I get to get back into softball. I was really missing it.”
Scoggin said Lemons possesses a strong, competitive mentality and infectious demeanor, qualities that are sure to help the Lady Roos succeed moving forward.
“The manner in which he coaches kids, the manner in which he deals with kids, he gets them motivated,” Scoggin said.
“His personality excites people. Just the way he handles himself, and I think the biggest factor we’ll get from him is his communication with the kids of expectations, because you have to establish those expectations. You have to put them on the table and say this is what we’re going to accomplish, this is what you’re going to accomplish as an individual, and this is what we’re going to do as a team.
“I’m excited about what he brings to these kids and Weatherford.”
Scoggin added that a capable group of returning players, coupled with the positive influence of former head coach Deborah Evans should only help the team transition.
“We’ve got a great group of kids, we’ve got a good nucleus returning,” Scoggin said.
“And Coach Evans finished out the year for us, and she had already started making some [positive] changes. So I think the two of them together can make a great team.”
For his part, Lemons said he is eager to get to know his players and start preparing them for the 2020 season.
“The first thing obviously is I’ve gotta meet the girls and build a relationship with them and let them get to know me,” Lemons said.
“We’re gonna put in a really strong offseason program. I don’t even like calling it offseason, I just say preseason because to me there is no offseason. You have different stages of preseason and then you have your season. We’ll get into the weight room. We’ll get stronger and faster. Everything is easier when you’re more athletic. So we’ll really make that a priority.”
Despite only recently returning to Weatherford’s coaching ranks, Lemons stressed that his goals for the Lady Roos are no less ambitious than any team he has coached.
“Number one is always gonna be make the playoffs,” Lemons said.
“And then once you get in, anything can happen. I’ve seen first-place teams lose early in the playoffs and fourth-place teams win state.”
Scoggin said Lemons brings the intensity and ability to get it done.
“We feel like with his experience and commitment to Weatherford coming back home, he can bring us a program that can get to that point.”
With the 20th anniversary of Weatherford’s state softball title on the distant horizon, Lemons said he hopes to make some noise on the field early and often in honor of the event.
“This will be the 20th anniversary of us winning state, so I really want to try and do something special when the season gets here,” Lemons said.