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Put Me In, Coach!

Featured Photo from Put Me In, Coach!

In baseball, basketball, and football, the Oviedo-Winter Springs community is welcoming three new coaches to our award-winning high-school programs

Over the past 20 years, Oviedo High School has gained a reputation for having one of the best athletic programs in Central Florida. So, it should come as no surprise that many top-notch coaches would jump at the opportunity to lead one of the Lions’ sports teams – even if they were already happily working at other area schools.

Such is the case with two recent Oviedo hires: baseball coach Andy Lyon and football coach Kolby Tackett. Andy spent six seasons as head coach at Seminole Athletic Conference rival Lake Howell High School, compiling a 66-74 record and leading the Silver Hawks to four playoff appearances and a district championship in 2018. In three years at Mount Dora Christian Academy, Kolby led the Bulldogs to a historic run, posting a 23-9 record, including a 9-1 season in 2017.

“It never crossed my mind to move on,” says Andy, who lives in Maitland with wife Gail and dogs Ruby and James. “I absolutely loved Lake Howell, and I planned to be there for a long, long time. But then the Oviedo opportunity came about. It’s just one of those jobs that you have to take a look at. It was hard to leave Lake Howell, but this was a really good opportunity.”
Kolby shares similar sentiments. His friend, local football coaching legend Rick Darlington, who won three state titles while at Apopka High School, advised him that the Oviedo job was an opportunity he shouldn’t pass up.

“Honestly, I never had the intention of leaving Mount Dora,” says Kolby, who lives in Celebration with his wife, Victoria. “But Rick told me it was an absolute no-brainer, and I should apply. I did some research and kept hearing how good the program was and how it was a great school and a great community. I applied, and the rest is history.”

Oviedo High captured Central Florida’s Varsity Cup all-sports championship for the 2018-2019 school year and has finished among the area’s top-six schools five times in the past six years. The Lions also won the all-sports championship for the 2002-2003 school year.

“I’m Fired Up”
Kolby grew up in Oklahoma and South Dakota and played college football at Harding University in Arkansas. After four years as an assistant high-school coach and one-and-a-half years as an assistant coach at Harding, Kolby took his first head-coaching job at Mount Dora Christian Academy in 2017, where the school was coming off an 0-10 season. After three successful years at the Class 2A private school, Kolby is looking forward to the big-school competition in Class 8A.

“I’m just excited,” Kolby says. “To compete in a district with really good football players and really good programs, and to coach against really good coaches – it’s going to be a challenge. But I’m thrilled to death. I love going to work every day, and I’m fired up.”

Homegrown Talent
Andy grew up in Central Florida, playing baseball for Lake Highland Prep and Boone High School in Orlando. He went on to play baseball for Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, and then moved back to Florida to earn a master of business administration at Stetson University and coach four seasons at DeLand High School, where his team made a Final Four appearance in 2014.

In 2015, Oviedo High captured its first state baseball title in school history, and Andy is hoping to bring the same excellence back to the Lions’ program.

“At Oviedo, they love their baseball, they love their high school, and they love their sports,” Andy says. “The entire community gets behind their teams. They also have a great Babe Ruth and Little League program and solid youth coaches, so it’s a place where you’re going to see high-level players come through quite often. I’m super excited to be at Oviedo and continue the success of the program. I can’t wait to get going.”

Moving Up the Bench at WSHS

Back in 1995, Shawn Witherspoon learned a lesson in perseverance and overcoming failure when he didn’t make his sixth-grade basketball team at Jackson Heights Middle School. The following year, he made the squad but struggled to balance basketball with his schoolwork.

Fortunately, Shawn’s parents – Ingrid and the late Eddie Witherspoon – were both educators, and they made sure their son got his priorities straight. By eighth grade, Shawn was back on track, and by the time he arrived at Oviedo High School, he was on his way to basketball stardom.

Shawn is hoping to be a similar role model to his basketball players at Winter Springs High, where he has been hired as the school’s new boys’ basketball coach, replacing Will Bakanowsky, who stepped down after seven seasons.

“What I’m looking forward to most is getting them to the point where they can get through the failures that are going to happen,” says Shawn, an assistant coach at Winter Springs the past five seasons. “Basketball is a game of mess-ups.             I want to teach how to move on through that and understand life is about overcoming those failures and teach them life goals through basketball.”

By the time Shawn graduated from Oviedo High School in 2002, he was Central Florida’s leading scorer with more than 2,400 career points and was named Seminole County’s Player of the Year three times. As a senior, Shawn was runner-up for Florida’s Mr. Basketball award (given to the state’s top player) to former NBA star Amar’e Stoudemire. Shawn played four seasons at Murray State University in Kentucky, where he led the Racers to two appearances in the NCAA Tournament.

A 6-foot-5 forward, Shawn played a couple of seasons of pro basketball in Luxembourg before an injury ended his playing career. He moved back to Florida with wife Alia (then his fiancée), working in sales for a few years before taking a job as an assistant coach at his alma mater in 2013, under legendary coach Ed Kershner. Oviedo won the Class 7A state championship that season (2013-2014), and Shawn joined the WSHS coaching staff the following year.

Shawn, who grew up in Geneva, lives in Oviedo with Alia and sons Isaiah (9) and Noah (6).

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