Jordan High School is Katy ISD’s ninth high school. Since 2013, the district has introduced three high schools: Tompkins (2013), Paetow (2017) and now Jordan. The Jordan campus, located in Fulshear, opens in August.
Because Jordan High is opening on an even year (2020) and beginning with freshmen and sophomores, Jordan’s individual sports will go varsity right away, but team sports will wait until the fall of 2021, when the school adds juniors. The only sport that is not able to be placed in realignment on the “middle” year, or halfway between the two-year realignment, is football.
Football for Jordan High won’t be realigned by the UIL until 2022, which will be Jordan’s first varsity football season. Until then, the district will try to mix and match schedules for Jordan to play football, just not under the UIL umbrella. The Warriors, whose colors are black and gold, will play a junior varsity schedule this year, with some varsity and sophomore team opponents mixed in.
The school will have an initial enrollment of almost 1,600.
On Tuesday afternoon, I was invited on a tour of the athletic facilities. Architecturally, the campus is very similar to that of Paetow High.
The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) announced on Friday it is delaying the start of its fall sports season.
The season has been pushed back because of a significant and severe rise of cases of COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus.
Programs can return to practice on Sept. 8. Volleyball and individual sports, like cross country, can start their respective seasons Sept. 21.
Football teams will have one scrimmage the week of Sept. 21, followed by the start-up of the season on Sept. 28.
“All things considered, we still get to play,” said Clay Richardson, head football coach of St. John XIII, which is in TAPPS Division I-District 2. “Can you imagine being a senior knowing you won’t play college football, but you love the game so much and it’s taken away from you? That would be heartbreaking.”
The unwelcomed phone call lasted 16 seconds. Washing your hands takes longer.
But for Carson Lance, that amount of time was enough to temporarily set back his career. A 2014 graduate of Katy High who was in the single-A minor league system of the Detroit Tigers organization, Lance was at his offseason home in Denton on July 2 when the Tigers called to notify he was being released.
“Short and sweet, to the point,” Lance, 25, recalled. “Nobody has money right now and there are a lot of players. I’m not the only guy with this story. I think Detroit cut 40-plus people that day. That’s the number I heard, so I’m sure he was busy that day and didn’t have a whole lot of time.”
As the country is engulfed in a pandemic threatening the fall sports season, Katy High senior defensive back Dalton Johnson considers himself fortunate.
Though on-campus and in-person recruiting visits were not permitted during the spring because of COVID-19, Johnson verbally committed to continue his career and play for the University of Arizona a little more than a month ago. His future will not be dependent upon a senior campaign that is in jeopardy.
“It’s such a relief off my shoulders,” Johnson said. “Definitely with the pandemic, it kind of sped things up for me a bit. I was originally going to wait (to commit) until I go on a visit or something, but COVID kind of messed that up. It wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t rushed or anything. I knew it was the right time.
“I wanted to make sure I secured a spot, and looking at Arizona it was a perfect fit.”
As soon as Army offered Taylor High’s Casey Shorter on June 5, it didn’t take long for the power running back to commit himself to the black and gold.
The 5-foot-10, 210-pounder had done his research on Army ever since the Black Knights had contacted him on February 4. Then came the official full-ride offer. Fourteen days later, on June 19, Shorter declared the program his future home.
“I know it is an opportunity of a lifetime,” Shorter said. “One of the top academic schools, a guaranteed job when graduating, and I know they have an offense that I fit into perfectly.”
Tompkins was the pleasant surprise of Katy ISD’s boys basketball last season when it made a surprising run to the Class 6A regional quarterfinals as a relatively young team.
Though the Falcons lost a pair of senior leaders in Hank Sanders and Jonathan Nash for the upcoming season, they return a talented junior class in B.B. Knight, Jason Clark and Carmelo Yakubu. All three have size, length and shooting ability; Knight is regarded as one of the top shooters in the class of 2022.
Tompkins has also added a pair of dynamic transfers: Joshua McMillan II from Cypress Lakes and Demari Williams from Fulshear. The marquee name is the senior combo guard Williams. The 6-foot-6, 210-pounder averaged 21 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals last season.
Williams, a three-star recruit, scored more than 1,000 points over the last two seasons for the Chargers.
“I’ve been zoned to Tompkins for over a year now,” Williams said. “I was at Fulshear on a district waiver last year because my dad works in the district. Tompkins is a lot closer to my home, so we discussed it as a family, and I decided to give it a try for my senior year.”
Tompkins High basketball players and coaches drooped in their locker room, entrenched deep within the bowels of San Antonio’s Alamodome, with shoulders slumped and heads heavy, fallen and frustrated, on the night of March 11, 2018.
The Falcons had just dropped a heartbreaking 49-47 overtime decision to Allen in the Class 6A state championship game.
Even after a remarkable season that put the still-young program on the high school basketball map in Texas, tears filled eyes. Eventually, however, perspective and optimism filled thoughts and words.
“It was definitely a learning experience,” said Emmanuel White, then a senior wing. “Shortly after the game, we all told each other that we were going to be in a bigger moment. That wasn’t going to be the biggest game we’d ever play in. So, we didn’t really hang our hats on that.
“Now it’s just crazy. We’re all about to have a chance to do it together again.”
The district was the first in the Greater Houston area to promote an athletic trainer to the central office 13 years ago. Today, the district is one of only three in the Houston area—Fort Bend and Pasadena being the other two—to have an assistant athletic director over sports medicine.
That job was fulfilled by Charlie Stevens, who furthered the advancement of sports medicine at the high school level for Katy ISD. Stevens officially resigned before spring break in March, but his last day is June 30. Former Katy High athletic trainer Justin Landers will succeed him.
“Some of us have a servant’s heart,” said Stevens, who was the athletic trainer at Mayde Creek High for 23 years before then-Katy ISD athletic director Rusty Dowling promoted him in 2007 to oversee the district’s initiatives in athletic training and sports medicine. “You enjoy helping people. The sports world deals with strength and speed and all those things, so athletic training allowed me to gain knowledge that allowed me to help people.”
Tompkins coach Todd McVey remembers it well to this day.
Then-sophomore Marquis Shoulders, a transfer from Cypress Springs, misread the ball on a kick return in his first junior varsity home game in 2018. Shoulders was clearly frustrated, and McVey approached him to have a quick chat.
“It was his first time out there and he kind of fumbled it a bit,” McVey said. “He got frustrated and I had to give him a talk on the sideline. It was that year of learning for him. That JV year was really good for him. He was our MVP and he got to key in on his craft and it paid off for him.”