Dash Connell was named the new Tyler Junior College head tennis coach today.
TJC President Dr. Mike Metke made the surprise announcement during the monthly Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce board meeting.
Connell, 29, has been serving as interim head coach for a year after John Peterson retired last year after serving since 1987. Connell also served as assistant coach under Peterson for two years.
Connell played tennis for TJC and Texas A&M University.
The Apache Ladies clinched their third straight NJCAA Women's National Tennis Championship on their home court in May under Connell. TJC Athletic Director Tim Drain said TJC hosted 29 teams during the national championships here.
Metke said he is proud of what Connell has done in his first year as interim and named him permanent head tennis coach.
“These are long-term decisions, as you know by John (Peterson),” Metke said during the board meeting. “You’ve raised the bar really high. We’re proud of you.”
Connell said he was hoping to be chosen as head coach but was surprised the announcement was made during the meeting.
I love it,” Connell said of Tyler and TJC. “Coming back here; it’s just been amazing, the community,” he said. “Winning or losing … this job is awesome because I get to work for people like that (Metke and Drain).”
Growing up in Katy, Connell’s father was a tennis coach. He played at TJC 12 years ago before playing at Texas A&M University for two years. He returned to Houston and was coaching tennis at a country club there until Peterson offered him an assistant position.
“I took the chance to get back into college tennis,” Connell said.
He has been married to Shae Connell for five years and they have two children, Mason, 3, and Emerson, 10 months.
Drain said he has known Connell since he played at TJC.
“He had the playing degree,” he said, adding that he also liked that Peterson fully supported and recommended Connell for the position. “I see it as a natural movement in the next phase of Apache tennis.”
Drain said Connell won many sportsmanship awards throughout his playing days.
TJC focuses first on great students and great young people and second on athletics, Metke said.
“Dash is a great role model and coach,” he said. “He’s such a great fit for what we offer.”