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Garner hits ground running in first weeks as Allen AD



ALLEN, TX – From meetings to appointments, and some coach hirings in between, it’s been a whirlwind couple weeks for Kim Garner in the early moments of her tenure as Allen ISD athletic director. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

It’s something she called “a dream job and the opportunity of a lifetime” to take on the highest seat in the AISD athletics department. With 21 years in AISD, including the past 13 as the school district’s assistant athletic director, it’s a responsibility she’s had ample time to prepare for.

Garner credits that to the guidance and leadership of her predecessor, Steve Williams. Allen’s AD since 2000, Williams announced his retirement on March 18. Garner worked alongside Williams for the majority of that time as Allen blossomed into a nationally recognized athletics program.

“Steve has been a mentor to me and I owe so much to him,” Garner said. “If it wasn’t for him, I would have never had an opportunity to be in this position. He set me up for success and his friendship and leadership mean everything to me.”

Williams was the athletic director for the entirety of Garner’s time in Allen. Prior, she spent five years working for Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD before making her way to Collin County as an assistant coach for the Lady Eagles’ softball team. She coached under current UIL athletic director Dr. Susan Elza, whose influence weighed heavily on Garner’s growth as both a coach and administrator.

“She’s an incredible leader. I had the privilege of working with her here at Allen before she left,” Garner said. “She has always been a great mentor and have helped me grow as a leader everyday. She’s a great friend of mine and she, as well as Steve, are why I’m where I am today.”

When Elza, previously an assistant athletic director at Allen, departed in 2008 to become the athletic director for Northwest ISD, Garner filled her mentor’s former role — a post she held up until this year on April 19. During Garner’s time as assistant AD, Allen won 19 UIL state championships in football, wrestling, golf and boys basketball and qualified for the state semifinals in girls basketball, boys soccer and girls soccer.

“It just speaks to [Williams’] leadership,” Garner said. “Allen is on the map for athletics and that speaks to his leadership skills. We’re going to keep the bar, at a minimum, to where he has it and our goal is to raise it.”

It’s the opportunity to build off her predecessor’s legacy that drives Garner as she begins her tenure as athletic director.

“When I spoke to the coaches once Mr. Williams made his retirement announcement, that was what we decided would be our daily goal and motivation: To continue to honor and build on the legacy that Mr. Williams put in place at Allen,” Garner said. “You don’t fill somebody’s shoes when it comes to Steve Williams — you take the torch, move forward and try to make him proud.”

Among the priorities during Garner’s first couple weeks on the job have been rounding out Allen’s coaching staff. AISD named Chad Morris as its next head football coach on March 31 and has made numerous additions to his staff — hiring Tristan Weber as offensive coordinator, David Branscom as defensive coordinator and Will Bryant as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator.

Garner and AISD are also working to fill head coaching vacancies for its volleyball and boys basketball programs.

Busy as she has been, Garner was able to make time to respond to a number of congratulatory phone calls and texts following her promotion — ranging from Allen icons like former head football coach and current Texas High School Coaches Association executive director Joe Martin and former AISD superintendent Jenny Preston, to Allen alumni like Steven Terrell and Matt Brown, as well as parents of players that Garner coached during her softball days.

All relationships that Garner still treasures to this day and ones that she credits plenty as she takes the next step in her career. 

“It’s been crazy but incredible. It’s surreal, it’s something you dream about but you’re never sure if you’ll be in this position,” Garner said. “I’m just so grateful that they’re taking a chance on me and allowing me to work at the greatest school district and the greatest athletic department in the state, in my mind.”