ANSON — Between teaching class, doing the laundry, grading papers, meeting with parents, studying video, running tournaments and in some cases, driving the team bus, a basketball coach’s life is arduous to begin with.
Now try doubling it.
While it may be common for a handful of individuals to accept the challenge of coaching a boys and girls program simultaneously, only a precious few succeed at both over the long haul.
Anson’s Ryan Dollar, however, is currently making a strong argument that it can be done — leading a dual AHS hoops resurgence that has both the boys and girls programs challenging for playoff spots.
“It takes a lot of time, but I’ve got some really good assistants,” said Dollar, who moved from Throckmorton to coach the AHS girls last year before accepting his dual role this season. “Coach (Kyle) McIntire on the girls side has been around a long time and he does a good job of helping me.
“And I hired coach (Cutter) Smith. He’s a Eula boy so he’s a basketball guy. … It’s time-consuming. We’re up here at 6 a.m. for junior high practice and our high school practices end at about 6: 15 every night. Then you have game nights and film (study). On game nights, I usually get to go home and tell my kids good night, then come back here to watch film and get prepared for the next day.”
The improvement in both programs is noteworthy.
A year ago, the Anson girls finished at 10-16 and out of the playoffs with a fifth-place 3-9 mark in District 5-3A. The AHS boys closed at 5-24 overall and dead last in district at 0-12.
A year later, the Lady Tigers are 17-8 overall and 3-4 in a loaded district, but battling for a playoff spot with powerhouses from Jim Ned, Colorado City and Merkel. The boys are 14-11 overall and 4-2 in district in perhaps the area’s most dramatic turnaround at any level.
“With the girls, getting a little extra age and experience has helped,” Dollar said. “Last year, I had mostly freshmen and sophomores and one junior. This year, I’ve got one senior, three juniors and four sophomores so we’re still fairly young on that side of it. But they listen and they know exactly what to do.
“On the boys side, we’re young there too. We’ve only got one senior. They haven’t been in the gym as much as the girls, but they came out of football playing in the first round of the playoffs and came in here hungry and ready to go. Putting in a new system has been tough and taken a little bit of time, but over the last three to four weeks, you could really see a difference in them.
“We’re not where we want to be yet. But to go from where we were last year to 4-2 in a tough district race has been ideal for us.”
Of course, the players themselves have played a key role in the Anson turnaround and Dollar is quick to give them credit for it.
On the girls side, Gracie Feagan (12.4 points, 2.8 assists, 2.3 steals) and Reagan Jones (11.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists) have been among the most impactful players in the area this season. While Drew Hagler (8.0 points, 7.2 rebounds), Dylyn Pyle (8.2 points, 4.0 steals, 3.0 assists) and Mason Hagler (7.4 points, 8.3 rebounds) have helped lift the boys from the doldrums to respectability.
“Watching the kids grow from freshmen last year to get better and compete at a higher level is always fun,” said Dollar, who doubles as a special education teacher at Anson Middle School. “It’s busy and it’s challenging, but the administration has been amazing.
“The athletic director (Chris) Hagler, the superintendent (Jay) Baccus and the principals have all been very supportive. I’ve got a lot of good people helping me out so it makes it nice.”