Three Abilene ISD coaching staff members – two coaches at Abilene High and one at Cooper – have been selected to be part of the R.O.C.K. Coaches Mentoring Workshop, presented by the Texas High School Coaches Association and the Texas A&M University Thornton-McFerrin Coaching Academy.

Jayton Voss and Jodi Williams from Abilene High and Roy Dittfurth from Cooper will participate in the academy, March 26-27, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington for a two-day workshop with speakers, discussions, and networking opportunities. 

“Having three R.O.C.K. mentees in Abilene ISD is a game changer for our school district,” AISD Executive Director of Athletics Jim Garfield said. “Coach Williams, Coach Voss, and Coach Dittfurth are true representatives of what the R.O.C.K. program stands for: Rare, Outstanding, Compelled, and Knowledgeable. We have three educators in AISD that are truly transformational coaches.”

AHS head football coach and campus athletics coordinator Mike Fullen praised his two young coaches for the enthusiasm they bring to the Eagles’ program.

“Paige and Jayton have shown a willingness to learn and grow as a coach and leader of student-athletes,” Fullen said. “They bring a lot of enthusiasm to the programs they are associated with and energy and ideas from their high school and college experience. The profession needs young coaches willing to grow as campus leaders and mentors. 

“Paige and Jayton each have a great ability to build relationships with student-athletes,” he said, “and I believe they will contribute tremendously to our district and profession. Paige and Jayton have very bright futures in the coaching profession, and I’m proud and honored that they are a part of our team.”

Cooper head football coach and campus athletics coordinator Aaron Roan was similarly effusive in his praise for Dittfurth, who is in his third year in the coaching profession, all of them having been spent at Cooper.

“Coach Dittfurth does an outstanding job of not only coaching but teaching in the classroom,” Roan said. “He builds relationships with players to challenge and help them achieve their highest ceiling. He is energetic and passionate about coaching, extremely task-driven, and detail-oriented. He has great knowledge of not only football but track as well.  He works with our jumpers and sprinters on the track and does an excellent job with them.  He is the type of coach athletes want to be around because he cares about them both on and off the field of competition.”

After the Symposium, R.O.C.K. mentees and mentors will work through a year-long curriculum developed by the TMCA Coaching Academy. This curriculum provides bi-monthly access to virtual learning modules with discussion prompts, activities, situational challenges, and more for each pair to discuss. In July, the R.O.C.K. mentees will also volunteer as convention staff for the annual THSCA Coaching School.

The R.O.C.K. (Rare, Outstanding, Compelled, and Knowledgeable) program was created to meet the needs of and retain Texas high school coaches and administrators. Data shows that many first through fifth-year coaches and teachers are leaving the profession. Cultivating and assisting these professionals in finding their passion and being prepared as coaches, teachers, and leaders in an ever-evolving environment is critical. 

THSCA coaches and athletic directors can nominate a coach that meets the following requirements: first through a fifth-year coach, active coach employed by a UIL-sanctioned school, and willing to commit to the two-year program. A committee chooses the R.O.C.K. mentees made up of athletic directors around the state. The R.O.C.K. Coaches Mentoring Program will match a new coach with a veteran coach (the R.O.C.K. mentor) to gain advice, encouragement, and insights into the profession to help them grow in the mentee’s desired coaching fields.

This is the second year in a row that Abilene High has had a coach in the mentoring program; Conlan Aguirre was selected for the program in 2022.

I think it speaks volumes about our athletics program and the respect the selection committee has for our program,” Fullen said. “This is a tremendous honor, not only to the individuals but to our school district.  It highlights the quality of coaches in our athletics programs in the AISD.  I would venture to say that not many districts have multiple coaches selected for this program in one school district.  So, to have coaches from both Abilene High and Cooper selected for the program speaks highly of athletics in AISD.”

Here’s a look at each of the three AISD coaches selected to be part of the program:



Years in coaching: 1st year

Years at Abilene High: 1st year

Sports coaching: Football and Track and Field

College: Hardin-Simmons University (graduated in 2021 with a degree in History Education)

Coach Voss says:It’s an honor and a privilege to be nominated and selected as a R.O.C.K mentee. I was born into a life of football: my father and grandfather officiated and coached football since well before I was born. Football has always been an important part of my life. It’s taught me how to work with others and be a team player, manage time, and hold myself to a higher standard. Being part of a program that will better me as a coach is beyond words. This program will help me give back to the community that has helped raise me. Using the support and knowledge I will gain being a part of The R.O.C.K. Coaches Mentoring Program will help me inspire and encourage my students and become an even better coach and mentor to them.” 



Years in coaching: 5th year

Years at Abilene High: 1st year

Sports coaching: Softball, Volleyball

College: Texas State University (graduated in 2018 with a degree in Exercise Science)

Coach Williams says: It’s an honor to be one of the 66 coaches selected for the 2023 R.O.C.K Program. I look forward to the program and representing Abilene High.”



Years in coaching: 3rd

Years at Cooper: 3rd

Sports coaching: Football and Track and Field

College: Hardin-Simmons University (graduated in 2020 with a degree in mathematics)

Coach Dittfurth says:It’s an honor to be selected for the R.O.C.K. mentoring program. It is a great opportunity for me to learn from experienced coaches. I am grateful for the chance to improve as a coach and excited to go through the program.