Former Lake Dallas head coach John Tompkins hands the ball off to senior Parker Tuck (4) against Grapevine, Friday, June 3, 2016, at Horner Ballpark in Dallas. David Minton/Denton Record-Chronicle
One of the most successful coaches at Lake Dallas will not return for the 2016-2017 school year as head baseball coach John Tompkins turned in his resignation Tuesday.
Tompkins said he will accept a job to be the varsity assistant at Denton under Nick Buck.
“I think it’s just the best decision for me and my family at this time,” Tompkins said. “It was a tough decision, but it’s just what we felt like was best at this time.”
Tompkins, who was 185-116 in his nine seasons at the helm for the Falcons, is fresh off leading his team to the Class 5A Region I final before falling just shy of a state tournament appearance after being swept by District 6-5A foe and eventual state champion Grapevine.
Tompkins and Buck have a long history. The former Lake Dallas skipper coached Buck in the Texas Collegiate League with the now defunct Denton Outlaws. Tompkins said he will replace Donnie Watson, who recently took the head coaching job at Braswell, which is set to open in August.
The move was a welcomed surprise for Buck, who said he contacted his longtime friend to see if he knew anyone who would be interested in replacing Watson. The answer he got wasn’t exactly what he was expecting.
“He’s going to bring a ton,” Buck said of Tompkins. “John’s got the experience at the high school level and he’s done a great job at Lake Dallas. He’s done a great job developing players. He already has that experience on how to get every ounce of effort out of kids. I’m super excited to have him come on board and continue to develop the kids here at Denton High.”
The Falcons finished with a 26-12 record in 2016, which was the second-highest win total in Tompkins’ tenure — two shy of a 28-win season in 2011. In his nine seasons, Tompkins guided Lake Dallas to six playoff appearances and his teams racked up a 25-16 postseason record.
“It is a big blow. I hate to see him go,” said Lake Dallas athletic director Scott Head. “I understand why he’s going. He’s doing it for family reasons. He did a good job for us. Any time you lose a good coach like that it hurts, but you just have to reload.”
Head said the job opening has been posted and he will see what type of candidate pool he can get despite the resignation coming late. Teaching contracts for the upcoming school year will soon take effect.
“[Assistant athletic director and head football coach Michael] Young and I have been tossing stuff around. We’re going to throw it out there and see what we get,” Head said. “We posted it as soon as we got the resignation.
“He did a great job for us. We hate to see him go. I understand what’s going through his head though. It was a good year to leave on.”
Tompkins said the decision was a tough one considering the relationships he formed over the years, especially with his 13 departing seniors from the 2016 squad.
“We were able to make Lake Dallas a special place baseball-wise with the success we had,” Tompkins said.
Despite the tough decision, Tompkins said he’s ready for the next chapter and to work with an old pupil in Buck at an assistant level.
“I’m really excited to coach with Nick, because he’s a great baseball mind,” Tompkins said. “I think we’ll complement each other real well. I’m excited about working with him. I think we’ll balance each other out very well. I’m a little more intense and he’s a little more laid back. I think it’ll be a good combination.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.