Basketball assistant Eric Gracia is moving from the boys team to the girls varsity team. “We’ve gone from having six girls in the program to having 28 girls express interest in tryouts/practices,” he said.
Taking over as the North Dallas girls varsity basketball coach, Eric Gracia has high hopes: “We’ve got some impressive underclassmen that can make an impact right away.”
Entering his fifth year at North Dallas High School, Gracia has been the boys junior varsity coach for the past four years. He said he officially accepted the girls head coaching position in May. Basketball practice begins in mid-October and the season opens with a scrimmage against Molina on Nov. 4.
Gracia said he’s grateful for the “opportunity to learn from some great coaches” at North Dallas.
“My first year at North Dallas HS, I coached baseball under Coach [Steven] De La Cerda and Cortez Cole as they laid the foundation for the successful baseball program you see today,” Coach Gracia said. “After that I was added to the football staff as the Video Coordinator, working with Fred Johnson III, Matt Clay, and Byron Boyd. I was also the assistant basketball coach on the boys side where I worked alongside Jeremy Mason and Byron Boyd for the past four years.
“The things I’ve learned from all these coaches has shaped who I am as a coach but most importantly as a person. Jeremy Mason, Byron Boyd, Matt Clay, and Fred Johnson III have been great mentors and I am thankful for having had the opportunity to work with such great people.”
Natoscha Golightly, or Coach Go, will return as the assistant girls’ basketball coach, Gracia said.
“I couldn’t be more excited. She’s proven to be a creative thinker and positive role model for her students,” Gracia said, “and I can’t speak highly enough about her and what she brings to the table.”
Gracia answered a few questions about the upcoming season:
Q. What are your thoughts on taking over the girls team?
A. First, I’d like to thanks Mrs. [Katherine] Eska and Coach [Brian] Barnett for the opportunity to take over this program. The girls basketball program has had success in recent history with playoff appearances in three of the last four years but with one varsity player returning, it is an opportunity for a clean slate and a fresh start and I think everybody sees that. In a month we’ve gone from having six girls in the program to having 28 girls express interest in tryouts/practices and steps required to join the program. These girls are in our hallways, in our collegiate academy, playing volleyball, or softball, or dance, and they want to be a part of the North Dallas HS Lady Bulldog basketball team.
Q. What is your outlook on next year’s varsity team?
A. I anticipate us being an exciting team to watch. We’re going to be a scrappy and aggressive team that competes every day all while playing a fundamental game. We’ll definitely have to grow up fast but I’m confident in the group of girls we have in the program to take the challenge head on and play with a chip on their shoulders.
Q. With the loss of five starting seniors, how do you rebuild the team?
A. We’ll make the most out of every teaching moment but we’ve got a great group of girls that want to improve and have been very coachable in the time that we’ve been working together. There is a solid core group of girls returning from last year’s junior varsity team and we’ve got some impressive underclassmen that can make an impact right away. I want to create an atmosphere for this program where we hold ourselves and our teammates accountable on and off the court in our pursuit of growth. If we hold each other accountable and improve everyday, we’re moving in the right direction.
Q. When do you start working on the schedule for next season?
A. The schedule for the 2019-2020 season was set by the previous head coach but we’ll be ready for the challenge. After the season I will sit down and create a schedule that fits our vision.
Q. Your thoughts on the district competition?
A. We’ll be in the same competitive district as last year with Lincoln, Pinkston, Carter, Wilmer-Hutchins, Hillcrest, and Roosevelt. There will be teams that are hitting their stride with good groups of juniors and seniors and there will be teams that are reloading with good groups of freshman and sophomores. I’m confident in the group of girls I’ve got and I think we will definitely turn some heads and make some noise come district time.
Q. Any final comments?
A. I want to say thank you to every member of the North Dallas Bulldog family that has poured into me in preparation for this opportunity. Administration, coaches, parents, student-athletes and everybody in between. I have felt at home since beginning at North Dallas and I am proud to continue growing with this community in my corner. Go Bulldogs!