Posted: 10:12 am Monday, July 30th, 2012
By Matt Porter
Jessie Hester has football in his blood. He wants to make sure all athletes at his new school, Lake Worth, have the opportunity to succeed.
The new athletic director also knows where his fundraising focus will be.
“Football, basketball and baseball are the sports that bring the money in,” Hester said. “We want to make sure those sports are taken care of.”
Hester, who officially became Lake Worth’s AD last Friday, on Monday confirmed the hire of two new coaches: former Summit Christian boys basketball coach Murray Smith, and ex-Suncoast baseball coach Bobby Gilbert.
Smith won a 2011 state championship at Summit Christian and won back-to-back titles at Cardinal Newman in 1999 and 2000. Gilbert, a Lake Worth grad, reached the regional quarterfinals last season in his fourth and final year at Suncoast.
Smith replaces Mike Cavanagh, who resigned after last season. Gilbert replaces Mike Teman, who took a teaching job at Seminole Ridge.
Hester, 49, was brought to Lake Worth by Errick Lowe, who is entering his ninth year as Lake Worth’s football coach. Hester, a former Glades Central and Florida State star who spent 11 seasons in the NFL, will coach wide receivers this fall.
That’s in addition to his job as AD, which will pay him a coach-like supplement and keep him on campus every day. “There will definitely be some long hours, no question about that,” he said. “But I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
Hester replaces Carlton Jackson, who spent last year as Lake Worth’s AD before “looking to advance administratively in the school system,” according to Lake Worth Principal George Lockhart.
Hester’s expertise is football, but he said he’s “very knowledgeable about all sports” and believes he knows how to run an efficient athletic department. He challenged his coaches to have “the best interest of the kids at heart.”
Hester was Glades Central’s football coach from 2008-10, going 36-4 and twice reaching the state final. He went 3-7 last year at Suncoast before resigning, citing the school’s stringent academic standards. At Lake Worth, his major goal is to “make sure all these kids are graduating,” he said. “That’s first and foremost.”
Hester said he’s excited about leaving behind the limitations of being a head coach. He wants to be a take-charge athletic director.
“When I first started coaching, that always was a goal in mind,” Hester said. “You want to make sure that you have a big hand in your failure or your success. Being AD, that gives you the ability to do that. You have some true say-so in how your program can be run.”