SHERIDAN — The Lady Broncs will be led by a Thermopolis native next year.
Jessica Cordingly was approved as the new Sheridan High School girls coach Monday night by the Sheridan County School District 2 board of trustees.
Cordingly grew up in Thermopolis and is currently teaching and coaching in California.
She replaces Sean Yeager who announced in early April that he accepted a teaching and girls hoops coaching job at Alta High School in Salt Lake City. He amassed 44 wins in two seasons with the Lady Broncs, and Sheridan came up just short of the 4A state title game last year, eventually finishing third.
Yeager was a leader who operated with a kind approach from the bench, building team chemistry that turned immediately to success. SHS Athletic Director Don Julian says Cordingly is a coach who carries a similar philosophy.
“She’s huge into building relationships,” Julian said Tuesday morning. “Her passion is making a difference in the lives of people, she has been a tremendous leader in her school as a teacher. She is very humble.
“I really believe if you are great at making relationships with student athletes then they don’t want to leave, and they work hard for you on the court.”
Cordingly teaches special education along with PE at Corona High School in southern California, and she’ll move between the elementary schools and the high school teaching PE when she gets to Sheridan. She has coached either basketball or volleyball for the past seven years since she left Wyoming.
“I’ve been coaching forever,” she said over the phone Tuesday afternoon, recounting her first desire to pursue a coaching career when she helped with the Special Olympics as a sophomore in high school at Thermopolis. In 2002, as a senior, she played on the Thermopolis girls state championship basketball team.
Most recently, she coached the junior varsity girls team in Corona.
“I’ve always kind of wanted to coming back to Wyoming,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed having a different perspective here in southern California, but now I want to head back because it’s where my family is and it’s where my heart is.”
Cordingly takes over a girls hoops job that has experienced success of late but also high turnover, with three different head coaches in the last five years.
“She’s fairly young, and she wants to be here for a while,” Julian said.
“If you look at the coaches we have and what we’re trying to do with our programs, we’re hoping to create positions where assistants can become head coaches. That doesn’t always work out, but we’re hoping that we won’t be re-hiring this [position] for a while.”
While they were a serious contender for the past several years, the Lady Broncs won their last state championship under Mark Elliot in 2007.
“Sheridan has always been one of those places I thought I would really enjoy living,” Cordingly continued. “The people are friendly, the school is amazing, and the support systems in place just seem great.”
Corona High School has 3,300 students, she explained, admitting she’s ready for the change of pace back in small-school Wyoming.
“You don’t know how blessed you guys are,” she insisted. “When I visited I was reminded what it’s like to have such a great communinty, people who put kids first and students first. The facilities were awesome, and from what I hear, the Lady Broncs have that history of working hard and that family-type, family-first attitude.
“In building a program, we’ll work hard,” she added. “It sounds like it’s been pretty successful over the past few years, and I want to continue that family atmosphere and maybe bring a fresh perspective as well.”