Foundation started: West Plains hires Sundown’s Cummings, Canyon’s Cornelius as first head coaches

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The Canyon ISD school board approved Adam Cummings and Kaitlyn (Bauer) Cornelius as the first West Plains High School head coaches Friday morning. [Kale Steed/ Press Pass Sports]

The new West Plains High School took a huge leap into reality hiring its first two coaches that will embrace a new era into the Texas Panhandle when it comes to high school athletics in the fall of 2022.

After months of speculation and building anticipation the Canyon ISD school board approved Adam Cummings and Kaitlyn (Bauer) Cornelius as the school’s first ever head coaches Friday morning.

Cummings will be the new head football coach and on campus boys coordinator, while Cornelius lands her first career head volleyball coaching job.

After months of phone calls, interviews, and keeping this coaching search extremely quiet, which is impressive in today’s world of social media, Canyon ISD athletic director Toby Tucker was finally able to praise the latest hires.

“It’s been a process,” Canyon athletic director Toby Tucker said. “This is the longest coaching search that I’ve ever been a part of, because it started last March. We really took time to research our candidates, and get the right people. We’re ready to go to work.”

Cummings has spent the past four seasons as the Sundown football coach amassing a proud record of 35-13 (72.9 winning percentage) taking the Roughnecks to the Class 2A Division I playoffs all four years.

Before his time at Sundown, Cummings was the head coach at Hale Center, and was elected by his colleagues as the Regional Director of the Texas High School Coaches Association in 2017.

“I want to thank the Canyon ISD board of directors,” Cummings said. “That shows a lot of confidence in me. I’m just excited for this opportunity, and what’s about to happen at West Plains. It’s every coaches dream to start their own program. Coaches always talk about laying the foundation, we’re going to be laying the foundation at West Plains. There is no tradition or the guy before.”

Tucker echoed Cummings comment.

“Adam has a ton of respect from his peers,” Cummings said. “He was named to as a THSCA regional board of directors. That doesn’t just happen. I also think he’s just a great football coach. At Sundown he’s won over 70 percent of his games. That’s tough to do at any level. I think he’s a great man, and I can’t wait to see what he does.”

Cummings is no stranger to Canyon ISD. Cummings spent nine years (2005-2014) under former legendary Canyon coach, Blake Bryant, as an assistant and defensive coordinator.

“This is a Homecoming for me,” Cummings said. “This is where I met my wife, and started our family. So to come back here to the Texas Panhandle, and Canyon ISD is very special to me.”

Tucker shocked many by taking a chance on Cornelius, who has never been a head volleyball coach. Cornelius has been an assistant for Canyon head coach, Sara Morath, the past four years helping the Lady Eagles to four straight playoff appearances.

“This means the world to me,” Cornelius said. “This is my first head coaching job, so they’ll be a lot of room for me to grow. I’m excited to leave my mark, and build from the ground up. I can’t wait to challenge our team, and challenge myself.”

Tucker agreed with Cornelius.

“Everyone takes a chance on a coach,” Tucker said. “But Kaitlyn is the right coach for this job. She does an amazing job with our young people at Canyon. She’s mature, she’s poised. I can’t wait to see her introduce herself to the West Plains athletes. I think they’ll love her.”

Cornelius’ volleyball pedigree mind you speaks for itself. Cornelius played under legendary Texas Panhandle Hall of Fame coach, JaNeen Eudy at Bushland, leading the Lady Falcons to a state championship in 2013, where she also nabbed state MVP honors.

“I love coach Eudy,” Cornelius said. “She’s amazing, and I always picked up so many things from her. She was tough, and we knew what we were getting everyday. That’s important for young girls to know, especially going into a new program. Sara Morath has also been huge to my career. She’s been an amazing mentor. She is a dear friend, and has been incredibly supportive.”

Cummings and Cornelius officially start as West Plains head coaches for the school Monday.

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