Jessica Linson

Plano East head girls basketball coach Jessica Linson led the Lady Panthers to a district championship and a trip to the regional finals.

As the final week of the 2020-21 school year wound down, Plano ISD’s athletics department made the rounds to recognize a few of the top coaches in the school district.

Athletic director Jeff Smith and assistant athletic directors Ralph Hines and Karen Kalhoefer handed out coach of the year plaques to five coaches throughout the PISD feeder system, acknowledging standout work on the sidelines at the varsity, sub-varsity and middle school levels.

Award winners included Plano East head girls basketball coach Jessica Linson and Plano West head football coach Tyler Soukup, who were both named PISD head coach of the year.

“It was so flattering and still pretty surprising,” Linson said. “It felt good to be acknowledged by the district for all the hard work.”

In just her second year with the Lady Panthers, Linson coached East to its best season in decades. That included a 14-0 run through District 6-6A for the program’s first league title since 2008. 

Posting a 21-4 record that included 18 consecutive wins, the Lady Panthers parlayed that success into an appearance in the regional finals — the program’s first five-round playoff run since 1993 and the deepest postseason run of any PISD athletics program during the school year. 

For her efforts, Linson was named 6-6A coach of the year and Star Local Media’s all-area coach of the year.

Soukup’s coaching accolade comes following a 2020 season where he helped engineer a turnaround for a West program that was coming off back-to-back winless seasons prior to his arrival.

After going just 1-9 in his first year at the helm, Soukup led the Wolves to a 6-5 record in 2020, culminating in the program’s first playoff appearance since 2014.

PISD extended its awards beyond the varsity level, acknowledging Lewis Blount as the school district’s assistant coach of the year. Blount, who teaches algebra at Williams High School, assisted with the Lady Panthers’ volleyball and softball teams.

The school district also recognized two recipients for its middle school coach of the year honors. Those accolades went to Frankford Middle School’s Shanda Tyler and Hendrick Middle School’s Clint Guinn. Tyler coached the Falcons’ seventh-grade volleyball, eighth-grade girls basketball and boys and girls cross country programs, while Guinn presides over the Hawks as the middle school’s athletic director.

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