This article was corrected at 4:45 p.m. on April 23, 2013. An explanation follows the story.
South County Secondary School ended its search for new basketball coaches last Thursday, hiring Travis Hess to lead the boys varsity program and Tiffany Lockett to guide the girls program.
Hess will take over for Wendell Johnson, who informed South County Director of Student Activities Mike Pflugrath of his desire to step away from coaching two weeks after the conclusion of the 2012-13 season. Johnson - who served as an assistant under Pflugrath since 1996 before taking over the head coaching job at South County in 2008 - wants to pursue a Master’s Degree in athletic administration.
After braving a 3-20 season in his first year as South County’s head coach, Johnson led the Stallions to three consecutive winning seasons, the first since the school’s inception in 2005. His team finished last season with an 11-17 record that featured appearances in the Patriot District championship and Northern Region final four.
The month-long search for Johnson’s replacement included about 40 applicants for the job. In the end they settled on Hess, who will teach math classes in addition to coaching the school’s varsity boys basketball team.
“We feel like we know what we’re getting with Travis,” Pflugrath said. “He’s a hard working guy who’s very competitive and really does things the right way. He respects the game, teaches fundamentals well and his teams play hard. And besides being a great coach, he’s an even better teacher.”
Hess, a 2002 graduate of Bloomsburg University in his native Pennsylvania, has served as Langley High School’s varsity boys basketball coach for the past eight seasons. He guided the Saxons to four Liberty District titles and three regional final four appearances in that span, in addition to being named the district coach of the year five times.
“I have nothing but great things to say and fond memories of Langley,” Hess said. “I just think that this is a great opportunity for a lot of reasons.”
Langley Director of Student Activities Geoff Noto said he’ll conduct interviews over the next two weeks and expects to hire a new basketball coach by mid-May.
Hess cited the ability to live in the community where he teaches and works as one of the biggest draws to accepting the job at South County. His wife, Suzanne, is looking to teach at a theatre school in the area, and his kids, Gianna and Jackson, will attend school in the Lorton area. He is also intrigued by the prospect of starting a new legacy with the South County basketball program, which has yet to win a championship of any kind.
“I’m very excited for a new challenge,” Hess said. “I think that they’ve got a great thing going at South County with not only athletics but academics as well. The administrative team, the athletic office, everything is state of the art; everything’s done really first class.”
Lockett, meanwhile, will take over for Noel Klippenstein, who led South County’s varsity girls basketball team to 6-17 and 7-15 marks in her two seasons at the helm. Klippenstein, who works for FCPS Health and Physical Education’s Living Fit in Fairfax Federal Grant, resigned from her coaching duties at the end of the 2012-13 season.
Lockett has been serving as South County’s junior varsity and freshman girls basketball coach, a position that has demonstrated her ability to cultivate positive relationships with her players.
“The kids really respond to her, and that was kind of the overwhelming thing in Tiffany’s corner,” Pflugrath said. “She’s played the game professionally and she knows the game, but the fact that the kids really respond to her, those strong relationships were something we really wanted to keep going.”
The original version of this story misidentified the number of district titles Langley’s boys basketball team won under Travis Hess.