WINDERMERE As Jacob Doss settled into his new role as the athletic director at Windermere Prep, the longtime football coach for the Lakers knew that the hires he would make going forward would be some of the most important decisions he would face.
“I wanted to make sure that I was surrounded with some of the best,” Doss said. “We needed to make sure we got people who fit the mold here. … We want somebody specific to the program.”
And so there has been a shakeup on campus for the Windermere Prep athletic programs, with a host of new faces on campus to lead several sports, including baseball, track and field, girls basketball, lacrosse, swimming and archery.
Although the hiring process for so many new coaches — and a new athletic trainer — was exhaustive, Doss said it was refreshing to see how the effect the Lakers’ success on the field has helped boost the talent pool available to the school — including an Olympian.
“We’ve grown — people know our name now, and they know our brand,” Doss said. “It used to be I would get three or four résumés. Now I get 150.”
MEET THE HIRES
Dwight Thomas, track and field
New Windermere Prep track coach Dwight Thomas modestly suggested to Doss that he could help the school’s sprinters when he reached out to inquire about the job.
He undersold himself a bit.
Thomas is a three-time Olympic sprinter for Jamaica who has been teammates with legends such as Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell following his standout career as a college sprinter at Clemson and Florida.
Emmalee Schill, girls basketball
Just months out of her graduation as a standout basketball player at Rollins College in Winter Park, Emmalee Schill has her first job as a head coach. The Defensive Player of the Year in her conference during her junior year, Doss said Schill brings an energy to the Lakers girls basketball program and a vision for where it can go.
“(Schill) came in, and she was phenomenal,” Doss said.
Keith Walsh, baseball
Hired in the spring, Keith Walsh has replaced outgoing coach Scott Horvath, who stepped down to pursue opportunities outside of baseball.
Walsh has 10 years of experience as a head coach with Edgewater High in Orlando and Umatilla High. Windermere Prep’s new baseball coach is a graduate of Lake Brantley High, who played college baseball at North Carolina State and UCF.
During his time at Edgewater, the Eagles earned two district titles, two playoff appearances and reached the final four for the first time. He has also coached several championship teams for the Orlando Scorpions travel baseball program.
Andrew Hock, lacrosse
Andrew Hock joins the Lakers as the new director to oversee both the boys and girls lacrosse programs on campus. Hock previously served as the head coach at Father Lopez in Daytona Beach and before that was an assistant at Bishop Moore. He played college lacrosse at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
Hock will oversee both programs and serve as an associate head coach to boys lacrosse coach JoJo Marasco, who also is a professional player in Major League Lacrosse.
Windermere Prep also tapped a new head coach for its archery and swimming programs, as well as a new athletic trainer.
Phil Graves has more than 25 years of experience coaching archery at the sport’s highest levels, and Doss jumped at the opportunity to bring the legendary coach on campus.
“I call Phil Graves the Bill Belichick of archery,” Doss said, referencing the famous coach of the New England Patriots.
J.T. Land, a UCF alum and former coach at SouthWest Aquatics, has been tapped as the new head swim coach for the Lakers, and Dianna Kroft is the athletics program’s new athletic trainer, after working three years at Wekiva High in Apopka.
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].