Mid-County coaches remain friends through rivalry

Published 12:08 am Thursday, February 27, 2020

PNG and Nederland are archrivals, but animosity doesn’t rule the personal relationships between the schools’ track coaches.

Nederland’s Allie Crommett and PNG’s Allie Kissel and Brittany Fruge all foster a strong relationship outside of Mid-County competition. With the track season picking up speed, Kissel and Crommett, the head track coaches, will see their runners running against each other, but the coaches share a budding friendship.

“Brittany and Allie [Crommett] have been better friends for longer, but Allie and I are friends,” said Kissel, who replaced Fruge at the track and field helm. Like Crommett, Fruge is also the head volleyball coach.

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“We’ve spent volleyball season together because she was the head coach, and then I was the JV coach. We get together outside of school too. It’s nice to see her. We had a good time at their meet.”

Fruge is the link between Crommett and Kissel, Crommett says.

“I actually know Kissel through Brittany when she started coaching there,” Crommett said. “I don’t know her quite as much, but us all having the same sports to coach means that every time I see her and Brittany, it’s always followed by a big hug.”

Crommett and Fruge came up as coaches in the same sports at the rival schools but continued to support each other.

“Brittany and I have been friends for a long time,” Crommett said. “We actually met through CrossFit and then she, at the time, was coaching at PNG and obviously I was coaching here. Neither one of us were head coaches at that time. Then, oddly enough, we both became head track coaches at the same time.”

Kissel on PNG

Kissel is beginning her first year as head coach for the PNG girls, and she’s excited to see what her runners can do.

“So I’ve been coaching volleyball for years before this,” Kissel said. “So far I think we’ve done well. Just now we’ve got all our pieces back together now that girls basketball is finished. We’re excited to see these girls come back in. We’re getting our relays put back together along with some of our throwers, and we’re getting the show rolling.”

PNG’s Sanaria Butler has had strong performances at meets at the beginning of the season, winning the 400-meter at the Bulldog Relays and winning the 100 and 400 at PNG’s Joe Williamson Relays.

Among other PNG standouts are hurdlers Savannah Cobb, a freshman, and Karisa Gonzales, a sophomore. Gonzales placed sixth in the 100-meter hurdles at the Bulldog Relays. Sophomore Kindred Nguyen placed fifth for PNG in the 3,200 run at Joe Williamson.

“We’re a really young varsity team, so we’re excited to see what the next four years have because we have a lot of talented freshmen,” Kissel said.

Crommett on Nederland

Crommett said that while Nederland has traditionally been strong in field events, this year’s group of runners has a few showing promise in long-distance races, including junior Claire Broussard and sophomore Grace Garrett.

Broussard placed third in the 800 at Joe Williamson and Garrett placed fourth. Broussard also placed second in the 1,600 at the PNG meet.

Senior Cami Gonzales, who won for high jump at the Bulldog Relays, is a three-time regional qualifier already jumping at the level she was last year, Crommett said.

Ke’Asia Hall, who qualified last year in five events at the area meet as a freshman, won the triple jump with 36.7, a foot off of Nederland’s school record.

“I see another potential five-medal chance going into area and hopefully regionals in individual events if we can get her there,” Crommett said.

Friends first

Competition between the two coaches will always remain fierce, but both see a silver lining in the challenges their friends across town will give them.

“Everyone always says that’s a big rivalry, PNG and Nederland, but when you have friends that work there, it’s more friendly,” Crommett said. “There’s never animosity or anything like that between either one of us.”

“I think it brings good competitiveness between us,” Kissel said. “I think it’s good fun with friends being able to compete. It’s never ugly and it’s always good vibes. At the end of the night, win, lose or draw, we get to walk away from here and still be friends. It’s nice to see our kids see that, that there is a healthy way to be competitive.”