David Lay chose a well-known high school coach’s surname as the middle name for one of his sons.
Richard Scofield had that kind of effect on Lay, the new girls basketball coach at Pilot Point High School. Lay was named to the post in June, taking over for Molly Weatherred, who coached at PPHS for one season before taking a job in Canton.
Lay has coached both boys and girls basketball at other schools.
“At the heart of it, I’m just a coach,” Lay said, explaining whether he had a preference. “I love coaching kids, I love seeing them grow and develop. A coach has such a special role. You get to be a mentor; you get be a father figure. You get to be a big brother; you get be a friend. You get to be a teacher and leader. You wear so many hats.”
Lay said coaches have affected his life in positive ways. He appreciates the effect Scofield had on his life, and he hopes he can that influence on others in his career. Scofield died in 2010. He coached 40 years and led Ryan boys to a 1999-2000 4A state championship.
“Very early on, he taught me how to handle myself and how to compete, how to work hard,” he said.
Scofield became a good friend as Lay matured.
Lay comes to Pilot Point after a two-year stint at The Colony, where he was an assistant girls varsity coach. He also coached at Frisco Liberty High School and Liberty Christian School in Argyle. He graduated from Ryan High School, where he played on the basketball team, and from the University of North Texas, where he got his degree in radio/television/film and communication. He holds an MBA from the University of Florida.
As a boy, Lay moved around a lot because his father worked for the Department of Energy’s National Laboratory. Lay eventually finished his secondary education – middle and high school – in Denton. He lived in Los Alamos, New Mexico; Tracy, California; and Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
He didn’t intend on pursuing a coaching career until Scofield called him when he was finishing up his degree. He asked whether he would come help coach his freshman team at Liberty Christian.
“I fell in love with coaching and education there, and I was already four-fifths away from a degree,” he said. “I finished the degree and then got alternative certification and went into teaching.”
He coached boys basketball for two years at Liberty Christian and boys basketball at Frisco Liberty for four years. He switched to coaching girls when he went to The Colony. He was an assistant at all three places.
Lay looked on job boards and saw an opening here. He was pleased to hear Pilot Point had great kids who would work hard.
“I was looking for somewhere to start my head coaching career and was looking for a smaller community, a little more close-knit, tight community,” he said.
Lay, who will teach geometry at PPHS, calls his first head coaching opportunity “one of the most exciting things I’ve ever been a part of.” There’s a sense of accomplishment in reaching this kind of goal, he said.
"But then at the same, you have to step back and say the real challenges start now, so it’s a whole new set of goals and whole new set of challenges, but it’s exciting and I feel like I’ve got a great opportunity, so it’s my job to take advantage of the opportunity I have been given,” he said.
The job in Pilot Point will give him the opportunity to turn around the Lady Cat basketball program, as the team has had six consecutive losing seasons.
“It starts with the culture,” he said, describing how a coach can change the fortunes for a program. “It starts with high expectations. If the kids believe they can do it, they can do it. We’ve been having open gyms at least twice a week.”
He wants the team to make the playoffs in 2018-19 and start competing for district titles. A coach has to put those expectations in the minds of the players. He describes his style as process-oriented, explaining in part that details matter and players have to do “the little things right.” He thinks the team will have more success than people expect.
“You put in a lot of hard work and you hold kids accountable to meet those expectations and you get after it,” he said.
Lay is married to Vanessa and has two sons – Braden, 13, and Emery, 7 – and a daughter, Brooklyn, 5.