For the past seven seasons, the Bullard Independent School District has been led by athletic director and Panther head football coach Shannon Wilson. Now, Bullard ISD is searching for a new athletic director as Wilson begins his new task, now serving in the same roles at Bridgeport ISD.
Wilson’s last day on the job at Bullard ISD was Monday, March 6. Before leaving for his new assignment at Bridgeport, Wilson sat down for an exclusive in-depth interview with the Bullard Banner News discuss his new position, as well as the memories made while working at Bullard ISD.
“It was a very difficult and emotional decision to leave Bullard,” said Wilson. “We have a lot tied in here. For the past seven years, I’ve tried to pour in everything I have into the Bullard athletic department and Panther Nation. I feel like things are in a much better place, and I’m blessed to have been a part of Panther athletics.”
Wilson first came to Bullard ISD in January 2010, hired as the school’s head football coach and athletic director, having previously served as the Defensive Coordinator at Southlake Carroll High School from April 2007-January 2010, as well as tenures at Duncanville High School from January 2006-April 2007 and Irving High School from August 2000-January 2006.
“Honestly, I wanted to come and see East Texas,” said Wilson, when asked what attracted him to the position at Bullard ISD. “I met our Superintendent at the time, Keith Bryant, and everyone here and had a better appreciation of the school district. I wanted to be a part of something that no one had done. I’d been in the situation at previous schools where we had a lot of continued success. I wanted to be somewhere where I could build from the ground up. We’ve definitely come a long way in the past seven years.”
Wilson is leaving Bullard with a winning record as a head coach, finishing with a 38-36 overall record over the past seven seasons, including three trips to the playoffs in 2011 (8-5), 2014 (7-4), and 2015 (7-4).
Last season, the Bullard Panthers finished the regular season with a record of 3-7, 0-6 in district play, and missed out on the playoffs.
“We weren’t having a lot of success before,” said Wilson. “We started with just trying to win our Homecoming game. We had a great effort and a never-quit attitude in that first season. From there one, I believe that there’s been an amount of respect gained by our program. Bullard is no longer the team to get an easy win against; other teams now know when they play Bullard, they have to earn it. I’m very proud of the success we’ve been able to achieve.”
According to Wilson, his is proud of several aspects of the Bullard ISD athletic department during his tenure, including the level of coaching and the strong work ethic and attitude of athletes.
“We’ve been able to surround ourselves with great coaches in every sport,” said Wilson. “Each sport is set up for success because of the coaches at the top of the programs. I’d put our coaches collectively against any other coaching staff in the world. Also, the great athletes in our programs play with great effort and class, with a no-quit attitude that gives us a chance to win every game.”
When asked about the state of the athletic program at Bullard ISD, Wilson said several of the department’s programs are successful because of the labors and work of coaches and athletes.
“I believe that when you look at what we’ve been able to accomplish collectively in every sport, it’s hard to deny that we’ve been successful,” said Wilson. “We’ve had success in several programs in district play, as well as throughout several strong runs in the playoffs. We’ve even been able to bring home State Championships during that time. We’re blessed with our athletic program now thanks to the hard work and determination of our coaches and athletes.”
Wilson said he found out he was selected as the new athletic director at Bridgeport ISD in mid-February, a position that allowed him to be closer to family.
“I found out about the position at Bridgeport from a coach I used to work with who coaches there now,” said Wilson. “I put in for it, and sure enough, God finds paths and opened doors for us, and I was named the finalist. It’s closer to my parents who live in Lubbock and closer to my wife’s parents. With both of my kids going into junior high and high school, this time frame was the perfect opportunity for us to transition.”
In the 2016 football season, the Bridgeport Bulls compiled an overall record of 3-7, 0-4 in district play.
Wilson also said there will be a number of key things he will miss leaving Bullard, including coaches, athletes, administrators and faculty members, and members of the Bullard community.
“There’s several things I’ll miss,” said Wilson. “I’m going to miss the coaches; I’ve been a part of hiring most of them. I’ll definitely miss our kids because they’re such great athletes and good young men and women. Also, I’ll miss several of the Bullard ISD administrators and faculty, as well as members of the Bullard community who always help me out with athletics. I’ll miss all of the good people who have worked with us to help build up Bullard ISD athletics.”
According to Bullard ISD Communications Specialist Laura Jones, Bullard ISD is currently searching for the district’s next athletic director, but does not plan to appoint an interim director to fill the vacancy. Responsibilities of the athletic director, according to Jones, will be shared between all members of the Bullard ISD coaching staff. Questions or concerns regarding Bullard ISD athletics can be answered by Bullard High School Assistant Principal and Girls Track Coach Chris Pawlak at firstname.lastname@example.org or (903) 894-3272.