After more than a decade patrolling the sidelines at Lehman High, Michael Banning will soon be heading across the highway.
In April, Hays CISD tabbed Banning as the inaugural girls head soccer coach at Johnson High. When the school opens in August, Banning, who has worked as the Lehman Lady Lobos soccer team’s head coach for the past two seasons, will oversee the Jaguars’ freshman and junior varsity programs.
While making the move was a bittersweet decision, Banning, who was named 2019 co-Coach of the Year in District 25-6A, said it also was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
“It was something where everything came at exactly the right moment,” Banning said.
Banning, who has coached at Lehman since 2007 and has been associated with the Lady Lobos since 2009, said he applied for the Johnson High job when it became open in February. While his ties to the Lehman program weren’t something he took lightly, Banning said getting to open a new high school and develop a program from scratch was a “unique opportunity.”
Following an interview in March, Banning was selected by the district to fill the position in April. Banning said he had been talking about the job with his wife for several weeks and was something he “prayed hard” about as well.
Once he was informed about his new position, Banning said he immediately met with coaches and players in Johnson High’s feeder middle schools and introduced himself to them.
The toughest part, however, was informing Lehman High players of his departure. Many players were shocked by the news, while others might have been upset.
But Banning has also received an “outpouring of support” from former and current players across multiple sports. That support has also come from parents and the community who thanked him for his time at Lehman.
“It’s super hard when you’ve been there for so long and you’ve embedded yourself in the community. It’s been difficult,” Banning said. “It’s been a hard, but a special time I enjoy.”
Banning said he aims to survive the first year at Johnson High. Prior to taking on the job, Banning met with former Lady Lobos soccer head coach Nauri Garcia and former Lobo boys soccer head coach Jay Sansom for advice. Both former coaches, who Banning said were mentors to him, had experience starting up a soccer program at new schools.
Scheduling games will also be a challenge prior to hitting the field next spring. Banning said the Jaguars will be “road warriors” in 2020.
His experience leading the Lady Lobo program is something Banning plans to take with him.
“I told the kids we’re going to be super successful, but there are going to be times when it’s going to be hard sometimes,” Banning said. “But we are in this together and we’re going to work hard, lift weights and get stronger.”