MIDLOTHIAN — Midlothian Heritage High School approved the hire of new Jaguar Head Volleyball Coach Timmi Blackshear on April 4. She will have a projected official start date of May 1, per confirmation for MISD Athletic Director Steve Keasler.

Blackshear, the former Cleburne High School head volleyball coach and led the team to the postseason in each of her two years with the Lady Jackets, replaces former Head Coach and physical education teacher Sarah Hallum, who submitted her letter of resignation on Jan. 26 effective May 30 per the MISD.

Though she was positioned to make a return trip to the 5A playoffs in 2017, the rare opportunity that Hallum seeded on Midlothian Heritage's fertile fields, however, was too good to pass up, according to the Jaguars new sideline general.

"It isn't very often in your career where you have the opportunity to get in a program while it's still young like Heritage," Blackshear said. "The attractive thing about Heritage is that it is young and you're able to create the culture you believe is needed to start winning championships. The rarest thing about this program, however, is that it's already successful — even in its beginning years. That says something to the common culture of not only the athletic program but also the school as a whole. That culture, the standard and expectation is exactly what attracted me to this opportunity.

They have already built something to be incredibly proud of in the younger years and where we will be in the near future is going to be incredible. I'm just grateful I'll get to be part of a lot of firsts for the volleyball program and be able to continue to watch and support the other sports while they succeed."

Blackshear submitted a letter of resignation to CISD Athletic Director Mark Walker on April 4, per a report from the Cleburne Times-Review.

Hallum, who works as a realtor in the Midlothian area with Hallum Homes Real Estate, Powered by JP and Associates Realtors, LLC, led the Jaguars to 45-32 overall and 13-9 district records during her two years at Midlothian Heritage. The varsity team reached the UIL bi-district round both years, falling to Springtown High School in 2015 and Kennedale High School in 2016.

She said, though she will miss her players and the education sector, the shift in careers was best for Hallum and her family, as well as an opening to accomplish a personal dream.

"It was an opportunity to grow professionally and move toward owning my own business," said Hallum, who spent 12 years as an educator before moving to the real estate market. "There have been some really good memories here but I've always wanted to work in a business capacity and the opportunity presented itself. It was really a situation of right place, right time. When the opportunity presented itself, I thought about it and prayed and decided it was the best decision."

Accepting the Jaguars' head coaching position marks Blackshear's fourth head coaching stop. She spent two years with Cleburne after moving from Athens and Ferris High Schools, where she was a head coach, and South Grand Prairie High School, where she was the first assistant volleyball coach.

Blackshear, who described her coaching style as structured and discipline-driven, was named the All-Johnson County Coach of the Year in 2016 after guiding the Lady Jackets to a 13-1 District 9-5A record and a co-district title. In 2015, she led a Cleburne team that had won two district matches a year before back to the postseason and helped them earn a bi-district title.

Though Blackshear earned a 49-40 overall record in two seasons with Cleburne and spent time as the head coach at Athens and Ferris, she found success in other sports during those stops. As head coach of the then District 28 Ferris girls' soccer program, she was named the District Coach of the Year.

She took the position because, at the time, the head volleyball With no prior soccer experience and the help of current boys' coach Kyle Cottrell and YouTube videos, she was able to pick up the sport quickly and lead the Lady Jackets to the playoffs for the first time in program history.

In the 2016 volleyball season, Cleburne posted an impressive 40-3 record in sets played as they claimed their first district title in a decade. The Lady Jackets recorded straight-set sweeps in 13 of their 14 district matches.

Blackshear said, with the current talent level and the playoff experience at each level of the program, playing for a postseason berth is at the bottom of her goals list. Earning an 8-4A district title and the overall No. 1 seed is at the top.

"This wouldn't have been as attractive of a job if I thought this was a one or two round program. With the talent level and playoff experience Heritage has, my vision is that we will be competing for a district title this season — not just for a playoff spot," she said. "I know there are some great programs in our district and even better coaches and it won't be easy by any means, but that is my expectation going forward. The higher seed we earn, the easier it will be to win the first bi-district championship. With Argyle and some other teams not in our region, that helps us determine our postseason. I'm expecting great things and a lot of firsts soon and am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to join Heritage."

Marcus S. Marion can be reached for story idea submissions or concerns at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter at @MarcusMarionWNI.