Airline seeking new girls’ basketball coach after McConathy’s surprising decision

STEPPING AWAY:  Airline girls’ basketball coach Lyndzee McConathy (center, kneeling) is stepping down after six seasons strengthening the Lady Vikings’ program. (Submitted photo) 

By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports

Deciding to step away from Airline High School and specifically, her job as girls’ basketball coach wasn’t something Lyndzee McConathy planned, but she was led to the move announced Thursday.

The decision wasn’t driven by administrators, but by faith and family.

After six seasons at Airline, McConathy is taking a less-consuming position as assistant to her mentor, Mary Ward, at Benton High School. She’ll finish the school year at Airline helping coach track and field.

McConathy was already looking forward to next season at Airline after she finished serving as the West head coach in the Louisiana High School Coaches’ Association’s annual basketball All-Star Game March 18, but after she stepped away from that career highlight, and had more family time, a new path emerged.

“This wasn’t in the works a few weeks ago. God’s timing is always the best timing, and I have learned to always follow God’s timing. That’s exactly what I’m doing. Stepping down was a family decision,” said McConathy. “The most important people in my life are those three littles, and I need to make sure I’m 100 percent for them.”

It will be a reunion with Ward. McConathy was her assistant before taking the Airline post.

“I can’t give up the game,” said the former Northwestern State guard, whose parents have been high school coaches. “It’s in my blood. It’s in both sides of my family. It’s something I love, but those three little kids deserve 100 percent, not 90, and with this move I can be sure that’s the case.

“Mary was my mentor from the beginning of my coaching career. She’s a forever friend, one of those people I am constantly learning from, and I’m looking forward to getting back up there, experiencing life and the game of basketball together again,” said McConathy.

Asked for highlights of her time as head coach at Airline, she didn’t first tick off wins or coaching accomplishments.

“My relationships with the athletes is probably what I’m most proud of, and seeing the women they’re becoming after they graduate. Those are what matter most,” she said.

There was a solid coaching resume, as well, notably the competitiveness of the Lady Vikings’ program not only locally but statewide.

“We’ve amped it up a bit, especially in the last couple of years. We’re respected in the community and around the state, and that’s testament to these girls and my assistant coaches for their commitment and believing in my system.”

Winning this past winter’s Doc Edwards Tournament championship, an event Airline has hosted for years but had never won before, is paramount among AHS supporters and high on McConathy’s list. Another recent high point: making the second round of the playoffs for the first time in a decade in 2022, led by All-Stater Kayla Hampton.

“I’m grateful for my time at Airline and all of the relationships I developed,” she said. “I’m thankful for (former AHS principal) Mr. Jason Rowland for hiring me and giving me the chance to make an impact. I’m thankful for (current principal) Justin James and his belief in me, being so understanding and standing beside me every step of the way.”

Most of all, she’s thankful that she’ll spend more time with her favorite players: sons Miles and Miller, and daughter Mikah, with husband Logan.

Airline athletics director Toby Todd said he’s accepting applicants to fill the vacancy.

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