Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Sports

May 6, 2014

Former Navarro coach Johnny Estelle takes over at A&M/Kingsville

Corsicana — Come on down, the water is fine.

That was Johnny Estelle's message to Corsicana on Tuesday as the former Navarro College basketball coach began to settle in as the new head coach at A&M/Kingsville.

“We are 40 minutes from the beach.'' Estelle said. “If there's anybody in Corsicana who wants to go to the beach, give us a call. The people at Navarro College and Corsicana will always be in my heart. We just need a 24-hour notice.''

That's Estelle, the ever positive coach who always talks about how much he loved his 13 years at Navarro College, where he left his mark on the program.

After spending a year as the assistant coach at the University of Houston, Estelle is starting over at Kingsville, a place that — like Corsicana — is dear to his heart.

“I call Kingsville Corsicana South and I call Corsicana Kingsville North,'' said Estelle, who has come full circle, coming back to where it all began. He was a player and graduate assistant coach for the Javelinas back in the late 1990s.

He was the team's point guard from 1994 through 1996, and then became a student assistant coach and later a graduate assistant coach.

“Kingsville has always been a very special place for me. It's like Corsicana, it's about the people,'' Estelle said. “The people are phenomenal. It was like a second home.''

Estelle's success at Navarro highlights a resume full of success. He spent 13 years at Navarro, including eight years as the assistant coach to the legendary Lewis Orr. He went 126-48 as a head coach and won three regional titles and a conference title.

He left Navarro last summer for the Houston job under Coach James Dickey, but Dickey resigned at the end of the season and is now an assistant at Oklahoma State.

Estelle moved on.

“The opportunity presented itself,'' he said of the Kingsville job. “I am coming full circle coming back to Kingsville. I have great memories of being here. The best thing about Kingsville is I met my wife here. That's the best recruit of my life.''

Estelle said he has been welcomed with open arms.

“There were a lot of people at the press conference that were here when I was here before and they were very supportive,'' Estelle said. “When you do the right things and treat people the right way relationships are going to last.

 “It's always good to see familiar faces. It's exciting. We won a championship when I played here and I want to win a championship here as a coach,'' he said.

Estelle will have his work cut out for him. The Division II Javelinas went 8-18 last year and were only 3-11 in the Lone Star Conference — and the cupboard is pretty bare.

“Some graduated, others left,'' Estelle said. “Several guys transferred. We've go to get some more players. We'll build a foundation from that point. We have about two or three players. Where the program is, I have to recruit a whole new team now.''

Estelle will have a chance to recruit and build with his kind of players.

“We're going to play like we played at Navarro,'' said Estelle, whose teams run the floor with an entertaining fast-pace attack.

 “We're going to be up and down, the same kind of game.''

“Everything is a challenge. That's where we are,'' he said. “We will try to build it every day and build a foundation that will withstand anything.''

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