Although Boulder High athletic director Melissa Warfield refused to say the Panthers’ boys tennis program has seen the last of veteran coach Gale Howard, all indications are that Howard’s tenure with the club has ended.
This week, Boulder posted a job opening seeking a new leader for the program. Essentially, Howard’s contract was not renewed for the 2013 season, though Warfield said Howard was, “free to apply again.”
However, the Boulder AD also added, “I want to see what other options might be out there. I want to see if maybe there is some new blood we can tap into.”
Howard took over a Panthers program in 2002 that was starved for success at the state level. Soon Boulder enjoyed a rather steady presence at the Class 5A state tournament, recording seven top-10 finishes at state during the eight seasons between 2004 and 2011. That stretch was highlighted by a runner-up finish in 2010, led by a state championship at No. 1 doubles from Harrison Vivas and Ian Ron.
For his part, Howard remains uncertain whether he would reapply for his old job, given that it seems illogical the Boulder administration would conduct a search for new coach only to re-hire the old coach once that search ended. The Panthers, playing most of the season without injured top singles player Galen Arney, finished 12th at state last fall but received an optimistic showing for the future when freshman Jackson Hawk placed fourth at No. 2 singles.
“I’m just not sure yet,” Howard said. “I feel I’m letting down the kids and the program means a lot to me. I’m just not sure yet if I want to do it again. It’s a difficult decision.”
Howard also spent 10 seasons as the Panthers’ girls tennis coach but was replaced this season by Sarah Templeton. The Boulder girls team did not advance any entrants to this year’s 5A state tournament.
Follow Pat on Twitter: @prooney07