Frisco High School football coach Vance Gibson is the “dean” of coaches here. Since 2005, when he accepted the job to coach the Raccoons, Gibson has seen it all whether in Frisco proper or within Frisco ISD as both the town and the district have grown exponentially.
Only former Frisco Centennial High School head coach Mark Howard had been coaching his school longer in Frisco, but Howard became head coach at Trinity Christian Academy in Addison in February 2015. Gibson is now in his 12th season at Frisco High and the coaching lifer shows no signs of letting up in what he dubs his “calling.”
Lifestyle Frisco: How has Frisco and Frisco ISD changed most from when you first arrived in 2005?
Gibson: Well, the biggest thing in Frisco is the number of schools we have now compared to when I first arrived in 2005. Back then, it was Frisco High and Centennial. When we had an athletic coordinators’ meeting, it’d be Coach [David] Kuykendall [the current Frisco ISD Athletic Director], Ronnie Mullins, who was the assistant AD, myself, and Mark Howard, who was the athletic coordinator over at Centennial. Just the four of us. Today, we have nine schools, and next year we’ll have 10. Along with that, I think one of the biggest changes has been there’s more administrative duties associated with the coordinator’s position. I used to have a lot more time to only be a football coach during a season. With the growth, there’s just so much more to do, so many more people involved in the programs. Coach Kuykendall’s office is probably stressed, some of the duties they were able to handle in the past slide down to the high school level for them to take care of on their own. The tremendous growth has been the biggest thing.
LsF: During your tenure at Frisco High, you’ve seen two new state-of-the-art facilities open in Toyota Stadium and now the Star. What are your thoughts on the facilities FISD now plays in?
Gibson: It’s unreal. We’re so blessed in Frisco to have the facilities we do, not just the stadiums that we play in, but on campus. We have turf fields, artificial turf fields, and stadiums for our sub-varsity teams, indoor facilities when the weather is bad we can work out in. We have grass fields that we can practice on. Just from that standpoint, it’s an awesome situation. Then, when you look at the facilities that we have to play games in on a gameday, we’re kind of off the charts. Not just football, but our soccer team, too. They play at Toyota [Stadium] and our baseball team has played over at Roughrider Park in the past. With the opening of the Cowboys’ facility, our soccer teams will be in there as well as the football teams. We have to be the No. 1 team in the nation, or probably the world, when it comes to high school facilities to play in.
LsF: Like every coach, you’ve had opportunities to leave the district yet you haven’t. Why have you stayed for over a decade at Frisco High?
Gibson: The thing that I enjoy about Frisco is the people I answer to are awesome. Our athletic administration, Coach Kuykendall and [Frisco ISD Assistant Athletic Director] Jerry Littlejohn, and [Assistant Athletic Director] Grace McDowell, on the athletic end of it, are the people that I answer to and they’re all ex-coaches. They understand the things you deal with. They’ve been there and done it, they’re so supportive. With the growth that Frisco experiences, there will be years where you lose students and you lose athletes because new schools are opening, so you go from being in a situation where you’re pretty competitive to where you’re almost like a new school starting over and your enrollment has to build back up. They understand that. I’ve also been fortunate to work for three great principals here at Frisco High. They’ve been so supportive of our athletic program. It’s hard to beat that. When you start looking at other opportunities, it goes back to what happens above me. You can kind of control what happens below you, but above you, you’re at the mercy of those people that you answer to. That to me is the best thing going about the Frisco ISD is the people I answer to, both at the athletic administration level and here at the high school level.
LsF: And with new high schools opening now seemingly every year, how do you think the talent level here in Frisco has been impacted?
Gibson: The thing that a lot of people were talking about was the talent would be strained at each school with so many schools. But you look at the success that all the athletic programs have had in Frisco, how many teams in different sports were competing at the highest level, and I think that surprises a lot of people. Of course, Lone Star played in the state championship game last year in football and we beat Lone Star during the regular season. I think at one time people were saying that the talent is going to be watered down, but I think there’s great coaching going on in this district. Coach Kuykendall does a great job of hiring competent people to run his programs. I think the same thing will happen this year. You look historically at Frisco schools, it might not be the same school every year, but usually in football, a school goes at least three to four rounds deep in the playoffs. That’s against good competition, so I think things are getting more and more competitive, and I think that trend will continue in the future.
LsF: How much longer do you want to be coaching and what do you still love about your profession?
Gibson: This is my 42nd year in coaching. It’s kind of divided up equally between high school and college coaching. I’ve enjoyed both situations. I’ll keep coaching as long as I enjoy it. I still enjoy being around the kids, I enjoy being around the other coaches, I like being in a competitive situation. I think coaching is very similar to the ministry… it’s definitely a calling. I think coaches have an opportunity to impact young people’s lives more so than any other people around. I think the longer I coach, the more important that aspect of it becomes. There’s a lot of good things that can happen when you build relationships. You can have an opportunity to mentor young people, be a difference in their lives and help them grow.