Visiting with new Paradise Athletics Director Britt Hart at his office Monday afternoon one thing was clear. He wants the Panthers to succeed in everything-not just sports.
One week into his new gig, Hart immediately brought up the UIL Lone Star Cup, and how he wants Paradise to achieve that very lofty goal.
The Lone Star Cup is awarded annually to five high schools, one in each classification, based on overall performance in each sport and academic program.
“To me if you get the most points in the state of Texas you have the best program in the state,” Hart said. “I’m a big supporter of that. I left Wellington with them sitting second, so there is a chance they might win their first Lone Star Cup this year.”
Hart was the offensive coordinator at Wellington the last five years. They won 56 games in that span, went to the state semifinals the last two seasons and put up over 5,000 yards each year.
That was good enough to give them the No. 1 ranked offense in Class A four of the last five years.
“My goal here is to try to build on that,” Hart explained. “Being at a bigger classification it will be tougher, but I know what to expect. By watching the kids and going through my system, I think it fits them.”
Hart was a big-time athlete himself. He played college baseball at Tarleton State University, got drafted in the 82nd round and ended up playing professionally in Cancun, Mexico for a short time.
After seeing that life wasn’t for him he moved back home, started graduate school, got married to his wife of 11 years, Chae, and took a coaching job at High Island, 30 minutes northeast of Galveston.
Hart shortly became athletics director of the Cardinals at age 26, while being the head football, baseball and track coach.
During that time the always active Hart played three years of arena football with the Beaumont Drillers.
From High Island, he went west to Hico, becoming offensive coordinator and head baseball coach.
Hart led the Tigers to their first-ever postseason appearance in baseball.
Then it was on to Wellington and now Paradise, where he wants to build on what his friend Danny Neighbors has already accomplished.
“Coach Neighbors did a great job while he was here. I’ve known him for a long time,” Hart said. “I’ve been to some clinics with him. He’s kind of set the tone on what’s been going on here.
“I’m going to try to build off that and try to succeed on their expectations a little more. I can’t guarantee a certain number of wins, but I can tell you we will be competitive and become better athletes and students.”
Not only did Hart like what he saw in the kids when he decided to make the move, but also what Paradise could do for his family.
His four-year-old son Rhett weighed one pound and 12 ounces when he was born. His care has played a big part in the decision.
“It had to do with my family,” Hart said about the move. “My boy has a lot of special needs and Paradise can provide him with top-notch needs.”
Hart understands the challenge that is ahead of him and is thankful to the community for their support so far.
“Taking on any team that has had struggles in the past is going to be a challenge,” said Hart. “Coach Neighbors has done a good job in the years he’s been here.
“I know it’s been hard for the community with this process, and I’ve been meeted and greeted well. My wife and I are looking forward to the years ahead.”