KINGSBURG - It’s been a busy summer for first-year Kingsburg High athletic director Scott Hodges.
With the fall sports season approaching, Hodges, who also coaches the varsity girls soccer team and teaches at KHS, is adjusting to his role by balancing and managing his duties, as he enters his first year as athletic director.
“I have big shoes to fill,” Hodges said. “[Former athletic director Thom Sembritzki] did such an exceptional job for not only our school, but for the community. So I have big shoes to fill and I realize that everything I do is going to be compared to how he did it, but he’s been a fantastic resource for me during the transition and helping me with getting things set up and getting ready.”
Hodges was named the new Vikings athletic director in June after Sembritzki transitioned to a full-time KHS assistant principal role.
During Hodges’ transition into the new role, he said he’s received support from the community, the KHS administration, and the school’s maintenance department.
“The maintenance department, Roger Carendar and his crew have been fantastic, supportive in some of the projects that we’re wanting to do on campus,” Hodges said. “The administration has also been supportive and helpful in the transition as well.”
After Hodges was named to the position, he was tasked to hire a new head coach for the cross country and girls water polo programs. He hired Josh Woods as the new cross country coach and Tris Abel as the new girls water polo coach.
Woods last coached at Orosi High School where he started the cross country program. He will also teach computer science at Kingsburg High. Abel is a Kingsburg High graduate and played water polo for the Vikings and Fresno Pacific University.
Hodges considers the two new coaches as “fantastic” hires for Kingsburg High athletics.
Along with the new head coaching hires, Hodges also added to his own coaching staff for the girls soccer team. He hired Ryan Bergstrom as the new assistant soccer coach, who is a junior high teacher in Tulare and lives in Kingsburg. Bergstrom has numerous years of experience coaching multiple sports, Hodges said.
“He’s going to be a fantastic addition to our staff,” Hodges said about Bergstrom. “He’s just a high quality person, but also knows the game really well and has dove into learning our system and how we do things. He’s going to fit perfect in our girls soccer culture.”
After successful seasons from numerous varsity teams during the past few seasons, Hodges considers Vikings athletics to be “in a great spot.” One of Hodges’ objectives as AD is to continue the department’s progress for long-term success.
During the 2018-19 academic year, majority of the school’s varsity teams had successful seasons by either competing in the playoffs or playing in a Valley championship game.
Last fall, the football team went 10-3 and advanced all the way to the Central Section Division III semifinals. The girls tennis team were the Division IV runner-up, followed by the girls water polo program repeating as the Division III champions, and the volleyball squad going as far as the Division IV semifinals. The boys water polo team also made a postseason appearance with a 27-11 win over St. Joseph in the first round of the Division II playoffs.
As for the winter, the girls soccer team won its third-straight Division IV championship, the boys and girls basketball teams each made playoff appearances, and the wrestling team had four CIF State qualifiers.
In the spring, the boys tennis and baseball teams each had playoff appearances and the track girls and boys programs each won Central Sequoia League championships. The spring was capped off by the softball team, who claimed its first Valley title since 2013 after a 12-8 win over the Hanford Bullpups in May.
“Thom has done an incredible job over the last several years of getting it to this point,” Hodges said. “My job is to continue that trend. To continue to do those excellent things that Thom set in place. We don’t need to turn the ship around by any means. We’re not trying to fix big problems. We’re going to try to continue to improve.”