By T. Scott Boatright
The phrase Tech Family is one heard quite often in Lincoln Parish.
And the Tech family showed plenty of excitement Tuesday afternoon as former Texas Tech assistant Talvin Hester was introduced by Tech President Lew Guice and Vice President for Athletics Eric Wood as the 19th head coach in the history of the Louisiana Tech University men’s basketball program.
Dunkin’ Dog fans seemed to unanimously feel the move to bring back Hester, who had served as an assistant under department Tech men’s coach Eric Konkol from 2018-21, was a slam dunk for the Bulldogs.
“We’re excited because he’s a proven product,” said longtime Tech supporter Skip Russell. “He’s been very successful everywhere he’s been. The basis of a good program is recruiting, and he’s good at that.
“I think that no matter what else happens, if you don’t go out and get good players who are also good kids, then your program is not going to be worth much. And Coach Hester has proven that he can do that. And that makes a big difference in what he puts out on the court and what we as fans appreciate and love about the team.”
Hester became emotional as he spoke during Tuesday’s introduction, and that was something Dunkin’ Dogs fan Fred Blake said was a positive.
“He’s got a heart — you saw how he cried,” Blake said. “When you have a heart like that, it means that you’re willing to share with people, and in this case, his team. The main thing he said for me is that he’s got God in his life. That’s important. That’s his guide. As long as he feels like that he’ll be fine. Because if God isn’t with you, then you’ll have to face the consequences. Through his words and actions, Coach Hester shows he has all the support anyone needs.”
Hester’s mother-in-law, Ruston native and Louisiana Tech business office education graduate Virginia Simmons Jackson was on hand for the announcement.
“This is wonderful for us,” she said. “My husband and I lived in Austin (Texas) for 24 years but moved to Longview when we retired. We’ve been making that long drive to Lubbock (Texas) to see our family. That was an eight-hour drive, this is going to be two.
“I’m so proud to have my son-in-law coach at my alma mater, close to where I live and in my hometown. This is wonderful for me.”
Former Dunkin’ Dog Dickie Crawford, now Vice President for Student Advancement at Louisiana Tech, said he also feels good about the new top dog for men’s hoops.
“I think it’s outstanding,” Crawford said about Hester’s hire. “He’s a quality guy that wants to be here, that loves the university and loves the community, and wants to grow and develop young men. It was a no-brainer decision. I’m excited for him and excited for Louisiana Tech.”
Crawford said Hester’s familiarity with the program will help make a positive impact on the Bulldogs and their fans.
“I think being familiar with the program, the university and the community will really help,” Crawford said. “He knows the expectations for himself, for the university and for the students coming in to play. That will help him hit the ground running and help to build for success quickly.”
Ed Jackson, Tech’s Associate AD for Student Development, Diversity and Inclusion said he felt Hester was the right choice to take over the Dunkin’ Dogs.
“I feel like Louisiana Tech is primed to do great things,” Jackson said. “If you look around and see all the action, and the excitement about the entire program, I don’t see anything but great things, and by bringing in this hire here, I think Tech has elevated itself to another level, just like we’ve done in football and like we’re going to do in every other sport. I think the time was right.”
Jackson was another who said he felt what Hester brings to recruiting is a reason for Tech fans to feel good.
“Recruiting is the life’s blood of sports,” Jackson said. “”Coach (Hester) has done a great job with recruiting, he has great connections with the guys that are here. To me, you can be good at the Xs and Os, the plays and all of that, but you have to have some Jimmys and Joes to make it all work, to make a difference. I think Coach Hester can bring that to the program. I think excitement is in the air and I think that if we support him and give him a chance, he’s going to do great things here.”
Longtime season-ticket holder Gary Stokely said he was happy about the hire because he knows the current Dunkin’ Dogs are happy about it.
“The players love him,” Stokely said. “The players approached Dr. Wood and told him they wanted Coach Hester. Rarely do ADs pay attention to what their student-athletes say or want. They’re going to do what’s best for the program. But this kind of all aligned itself like it was meant to be.”
One of the Dunkin’ Dogs most fervent fans, Mike DeCarlo, who joins fellow Tech librarian Boris Teske to spend many home games hopping and dancing to district opposing free-throw shooters, said Hester’s hiring made him feel like jumping for joy.
“For me it’s what he’s going to bring defensively,” DeCarlo said. “You might not be able to make a basket, but if you still play tough defense you’re still going to be in it. And I think Coach Hester will bring that. I’m excited about baseball right now, but also already looking forward to football and basketball.”
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