If you rewound the tape 10 years and told Jay Zeller that he would one day be an athletic director with no coaching responsibilities, he wouldn’t have believed you.
But Zeller made that transition five years ago, and he hasn’t looked back. Now he’s eager to tackle a new challenge at Robinson.
Robinson ISD’s school board approved the hiring of Zeller as its new athletic director at a Wednesday meeting. He comes to Robinson after a five-year stint as the assistant athletic director at Grapevine Colleyville ISD in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Zeller has also had past coaching stints at Mansfield, Kennedale and Jacksonville, with experience overseeing both boys and girls teams. But it was from his time coaching at Lampasas that he really first learned about Robinson.
“My first impression of Robinson was that it was a town that loved its athletics, a small town and place that really reminded me of home,” Zeller said. “So when the job opened, it was a no-brainer, really, to apply. I’m excited for the opportunity to make a new home in Robinson, and just super excited to get rolling and move back to the Waco and Central Texas area.”
Zeller follows Tommy Allison, who last month accepted the head football job at Hallsville. Allison served as head football coach and athletic director for nine years at Robinson. This spring the school district decided to separate those positions, following a trend seen at several other Class 4A schools around Central Texas, including China Spring and La Vega.
Zeller said that he loved coaching, and the connections he made with athletes over the decade-plus he spent on the sidelines. He moved to the administration side in 2014 when he spent a year as an assistant principal at Colleyville Heritage, and then took over as assistant AD at Grapevine Colleyville ISD the following year.
“Coaching is such a special career field, and there’s just a satisfaction of seeing kids grow and develop,” Zeller said. “When I made the switch to athletic administration, it was a family move, but I’ve loved every day of it. … Now I’m coaching coaches instead, and I still feel like there’s a calling there.”
As such, Zeller said that his first priority out of the gate would be to make connections with the various coaches at Robinson. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, they won’t be able to gather around a conference table or in a coaching room anytime soon. But Zeller said he was grateful for technology that would allow him to interact with the Robinson staff.
“That’s job No. 1,” Zeller said. “They need to hear from me, and I need to hear from them, and really start that relationship-building process.”
Robinson’s head football vacancy will be posted through Friday. In his new post, Zeller will aid in the interview process with prospective candidates. Earlier this week, Robinson ISD Superintendent Michael Hope said that he hoped that a recommendation could be brought before the school board for its April 20 meeting.