Former Wichita Wings head coach LeBaron Hollimon has joined the Hutchinson Community College women's soccer team as an assistant coach.
Once the Wings ceased operations in May, Hollimon found himself in a surprisingly fortunate position. His Wings assistant coach, who also is head coach of Blue Dragons women soccer, had a job offer on the table.
"One door closes, and another one opens up," Hollimon said Thursday night, referring to the opportunity presented by his long-time friend, Sammy Lane.
Lane is entering his 9th season at the helm of Lady Dragons soccer, and his search to fill an assistant coaching vacancy didn't last long after the indoor professional franchise dissolved.
“I feel very fortunate to be able to add someone with LeBaron’s experience and coaching expertise to our program,” Lane said. “It was perfect timing that the Wings folded and we had an opening and it was just a natural fit for me to ask LeBaron to join the staff.”
Hollimon embraces his new role, a safety net of sorts for a career on uncertain ground after Hartman Sports Group cut its ownership ties with the Wings.
"It's an opportunity to keep me in the game. It's a chance to stay around a high level of soccer. And I'm honored that Sammy asked me to do it," Hollimon said.
Hollimon will likely pursue another head coaching chance in the future. But in the meantime, there is the strange fact that the roles are reversed between the two coaches. Hollimon, former head coach, is now assistant.
"I am here to 'assist' him, and I'm okay with that," Hollimon assured. "With the Wings, I had the title of 'Head Coach' but it was more like a mutual thing. And that's the beauty about Sammy and me. We work extremely well together."
The 2013 Lady Dragons begin practice on Friday at the USD 308 Athletic Complex. The season opener will be at Kansas City on Aug. 25 with the home opener on Aug. 28 against Garden City.
"You be ready to watch us," Hollimon added. "We're going to be good."
Inducted into the Kansas Soccer Hall of Fame in 2008, Hollimon was born in Kansas City, Kan., played in high school at Wichita Northwest and played collegiately at Eastern Illinois University.
The Tulsa Ambush selected Hollimon in the second round of the 1991 NPSL draft. After one season in Tulsa, Hollimon became a Wichita Wing. With the Wichita franchise for seven seasons, Hollimon scored 99 goals in 238 games as a defender.
Hollimon helped lead the Wings to six playoff appearances. He finished in the top five in every major statistical category in his career in Wichita.
Hollimon also played for the Edmonton Drillers and Kansas City Attack before retiring in 2001. Since his playing days, Hollimon has coached several youth teams in the Wichita area. Hollimon’s teams have won the USA Cup twice, the Kansas Cup twice and the Disney Cup International Youth Soccer Tournament.