When track season starts this spring, Coach Kerry Hibbitts will not be leading the girls’ team for the first time in 28 years.
Coach Hibbitts and his wife, Susan, who was the longtime librarian at the high school, both retired at the end of the 2019 school year.
Hibbitts had been the girls’ track coach since 1991 and also coached the varsity football teams offensive line for 35 years. His track teams won 25 district championships, 7 regional championships and twice placed in the top 3 at state. He also led many, many girls to individual awards on the track, including several who won state championships.
“I’m just thankful that I’ve gotten to stay here at Wylie for so long,” Coach Hibbitts said during an interview on one of his last days at Wylie. “One thing I’ll miss is being around the students. They keep you young.”
Wylie athletic director Hugh Sandifer, who also is head football coach, had never coached with any other offensive line coach until this past fall. Sandifer said Hibbitts’ love for his students was one of the reasons that he was so successful during his long career at Wylie.
“He related to the kids,” Sandifer said. “They loved running track for him. That bond he had with the kids is really what made him so successful.”
Hibbitts said he decided to be a coach because of the impact his own coaches had on him. He played football and ran track at McMurry University and after graduating in 1978, he coached at Winters and Stamford before moving to San Angelo and taking a break from coaching. That only lasted one year, however, before he felt the lure to get back to it.
“I had a real job,” he said. “But the first Friday in September rolled around, and I felt like there was a void.”
In 1983, he took a job as the only Junior High coach at Wylie, coaching all sports. A year later, he moved to the high school to coach the offensive line, and in 1991, he became the girls track coach. He said coming to Wylie turned out to be a very good decision.
“It was one of the greatest things I have ever done except getting married to my wife,” he said. “I like the community – the togetherness and the support of the community. They trust you to work with their sons and daughters.”
Hibbitts said one of the things he loved most about working at Wylie is the relationship with other coaches.
“It’s a unique situation,” he said. “We have a bunch of guys that trust each other. Our coaching staff has always been a tight group like a second family. That is the main thing I’ll miss.”
Football is Coach Hibbitts first love, but he said he enjoyed the diversity of coaching girls’ track. He said that was definitely a big switch from football.
“You have to shift gears,” he said. “It was challenging, but it was a fun challenge. I liked being able to be associated with a lot of different kids. My main goal was to teach them a strong work ethic and teach them to show up ready to work every day and to do the job you have to do that day.”
The girls in his program certainly appreciated what he taught them. When former athletes heard that Coach Hibbitts was retiring, they created a Facebook group and began to post memories, thank yous and well wishes for their former coach.
“I thought it was one of the neatest things ever,” he said. “It was one of the coolest things.”
Hibbitts said he decided to retire because his wife had decided to retire.
“Sometimes you get that feeling that it’s probably time,” he said. “I struggled with making the decision, but I figured it would a good time to do it. I’ll miss it.”
Susan Hibbitts met her husband during his year in San Angelo, and they married in 1985. She worked in a daycare for a while before going to work in the office at Wylie Middle School. She also was secretary at the Elementary and moved to the High School when it was still in the building that is now Wylie West Junior High. She served as secretary for the counseling office at the high school for a few years before becoming librarian in the early 90s.
The Hibbitts have two children, daughter Kara, a 2001 Wylie Grad, and son Rogan, a 2012 Wylie Grad.
Mrs. Hibbitts said she knew it was time for her to retire.
“We’ve enjoyed all these years,” she said. “It’s a family. It’s a great community. We love it here. We’ve raised our family here. But I’m ready for a new adventure.”