On Monday evening, Betsy Baughman’s basketball career officially went full circle.
Baughman, a 1980 Groom graduate, has been one of the area’s most prominent and successful girls’ basketball coaches, as she has been at Tascosa for the last decade. However, an opportunity to coach at her alma mater proved too much to pass up, and she’s returning to Groom, this time on the sidelines.
Monday evening, Baughman was approved by the Groom ISD school board to be the high school’s next girls head basketball coach. She’ll take over for Sandi Johnson, who left after one season.
Baughman has coached at every level of girls high school basketball from Class 1A (where Groom resides) to 6A, where she coached at Tascosa before the school dropped to 5A. It might seem like an unusual move, especially considering Baughman’s success at Tascosa, but the lure of going home felt right for Baughman.
“I had the opportunity to go to Groom a couple of years ago,” Baughman said. “They had called me. I absolutely love it and thought I would always move back there one day. It was a very hard decision because things are going great at Tascosa and I love the girls.
“But this is a great opportunity for me to go back to my hometown and build this program. My biggest asset to others is to do that and Groom’s always had a bunch of tradition. The last couple of years they’ve been down, but I’m real excited about going back home to a lot of family and friends. I knew that’s where I would always be one day.”
Baughman was an all-state player at Groom before going to West Texas A&M, where she played for four seasons for coach Bob Schneider, who was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame earlier this week.
After that, Baughman got into coaching and has been a high school coach for a total of 19 years. She won a Class 1A state championship at Seagraves in 2005.
Baughman also had stops at Happy, Merkel, Crawford and Mineral Wells before landing at Tascosa 2012. During the last decade, the Lady Rebels have been a competitive program, and in 2019 Baughman led them to a 29-8 record and a spot in the Region I-6A tournament, the first time the school had advanced that far in 28 seasons.
She has well over 300 career wins, with the bulk of them coming at Tascosa.
“I have really enjoyed my last 10 years at Tascosa,” Baughman said. “They have treated my program and myself and my coaches very well. That’s why we became so successful. Our program needed a lot of work and I felt like over the years we have really improved.
“I feel like I’m leaving this program a lot better than I found it. There have been some great kids. The next three years at Tascosa I feel are going to be the best they’ve had since the 1990s. I want to shout out (Tascosa athletic coordinator and football) coach (Ken) Plunk, (Amarillo ISD athletic director) Brad Thiessen and (AISD assistant AD) Justin Hefley for helping me to build that program.”
Groom athletic director Tony Dodson was very pleased to have Baughman aboard as the new girls coach.
Last season was a bit of a struggle at times for Tascosa, as the Lady Rebels played most of their District 3-5A schedule without three starters due to injury. Tascosa finished fourth and made the playoffs.
While it would be tempting for Baughman to see Groom as her final coaching stop to close the circle, she doesn’t entirely view coming to Groom that way.
“I’m not looking to end my career right now,” Baughman said. “I’m looking to go as hard as I’ve ever gone and build a team and build a program. I’m just really excited about that. I have no plans on leaving Groom and I’m excited to get there.”
Baughman’s arrival at Tascosa coincided with her daughter Brooke Walthall taking over at Randall. Walthall was a standout at Canyon, where she was part of two state championships and later went on to play at Texas Tech.
The last two years in 3-5A, mother and daughter have been district rivals, with Baughman winning the first two games and Walthall winning the last two.
“I wanted to experience it all,” Baughman said. “I started out at 1A and I’m going back to 1A. Every person that wants to be a coach thinks they can’t wait to go back to their hometown. I knew that I needed experience and I had a lot of opportunity in the world before I came back and that’s a good thing.”
Baughman is hoping that the girls she will inherit at Groom will pick up on that.
“I want the Groom girls to know that I have experience at a high level and that they can trust me to teach them the fundamentals and the things to do correctly to advance far in the playoffs,” Baughman said. “My goal has always been to teach fundamentals first.”
Thiessen said that the Tascosa girls head basketball coach opening was posted Tuesday and that AISD is planning on filling it by the end of June.