When Jeff Hulme was a junior at Georgetown High School in 1986, he was awestruck when the new football coach arrived. That coach was Art Briles, and one of the first changes Briles made was add a stereo boom box to the weight room.
Thirty years later, Hulme is the new guy, as the new head football coach and boys’ athletic coordinator at Midway. He hopes to bring the same kind of vibrancy and energy to Midway that he remembers Briles bringing to Georgetown all those years ago.
“(Briles) was a big influence on me,” Hulme said. “There was a coaching change when I was a junior in high school. A lot of those juniors are anxious to meet me, and I hope to have the same kind of influence on them as he had on me. I wouldn’t be a coach today if he hadn’t moved to Georgetown, Texas.”
The Midway school board unanimously approved Hulme as the Panthers’ new coach Friday. Hulme — which is pronounced “hume,” rhyming with “fume” — comes to Midway from Mansfield High School, where he registered a 59-37 record in eight seasons and made the Class 6A state semifinals last year. Prior to Mansfield, he served as the head coach at Fort Bend Clements from 2004-07, going 33-12.
Hulme replaces Terry Gambill, who departed last month after six years to take the head coaching position at Allen.
Hulme spent Friday meeting the media as well as introducing himself to many of Midway’s teachers, coaches and administrators. But he was most excited to get to know his new players.
“The message will be that I’m the new guy, not them,” Hulme said. “I’ve got to be the one that fits in with what they’re doing. They’ve been successful. Coach Gambill, the last six years, his record speaks for itself. I’m not coming in to wreck it all down and rebuild it. I want to blend some things, I want to get to know the kids.
“I’ll start on that day one, today, getting to know them. They’re going to all have my cell number, and if they ever need anything they’re going to know that they can call me.”
Hulme won the Midway job from an applicant pool of more than 50, Midway ISD athletic director Brad Shelton said. Shelton said that Midway’s search committee first met with the school’s football booster club — the Midway Quarterback Club — to poll parents on what characteristics they wanted to see in the new coach. The feedback included Class 6A experience, integrity, a proven track record of success and experience working with a diverse school district.
Shelton said that Hulme fit all those criteria and then some.
“During the interview you could tell he had a passion for kids and he seemed very approachable,” Shelton said. “He was very transparent about how he wanted to work with coaches, not only the football coaches, but the other athletic staff. That was very important to me, because as a campus (athletic) coordinator he’ll really be helping me out in that area.”
Shelton was also impressed with the people who lined up to recommend Hulme as a candidate. Shelton said that no less than a dozen people, from coaches and athletic directors to sales people in the sporting goods industry, cold-called him to sing Hulme’s praises.
“They told me I wouldn’t find a better candidate,” Shelton said. “They said that he’s a character guy, he’s successful, he knows the game, great X’s and O’s guy. That was really impressive.”
As far as game planning goes, Hulme favors an offense that features a rugged, consistent running game along with an aggressive, attacking defense that tackles well.
“I’ve got some core beliefs, offensively and defensively. We’re obviously going to get started on that,” Hulme said. “I really believe you’ve got to run the ball to win championships. That doesn’t mean I don’t like to throw the ball. I know a lot of people have made an issue about giving the ball to my tailback at Mansfield a lot. Well, he was pretty good. We’re going to find ways to win the ball game and put points on the board.”
Hulme, who will earn a salary between $90,000 and $100,000, has submitted his letter of resignation at Mansfield. While Friday was spent mostly on introductions and interviews, Hulme was looking forward to shedding the coat and tie and donning some more traditional coaching gear on Monday.
“I’m a Midway Panther now,” he said. “I’ll be out here Monday getting after it.”
Hulme’s family includes wife Mindi and freshman daughter Sydni. He could also possibly bring a couple of coaches with him, Shelton said, as there are two assistant coaching vacancies left over from Gambill’s departure. Shelton said those decisions would be made in the coming weeks.
Hulme is just the third coach in the past 30 years for Midway, following Kent Bachtel’s long tenure and then Gambill’s six-year run. Hulme said that he’s hoping to stay at Midway for the long haul, too.
“I want to be here for a while,” Hulme said. “The lure of a one high school town, the community rallying behind it, the support behind the high school. For a 5A/6A coach, this is the school they’re looking for. I just happened to be lucky enough, blessed enough, to get it. As a competitive coach who’s been in this business over 20 years, this is the place to be.”