Canyon ISD promotes assistant John Peterson to lead athletic program

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Canyon ISD promoted John Peterson to athletic director on Monday night. [Provided photo]

The Canyon Independent School District decided it was best to stay at home in selecting a new athletic director.

Monday evening, the CISD school board unanimously approved the hiring of assistant athletic director John Peterson as the district’s new athletic director. Peterson takes over for former athletic director Toby Tucker, who left CISD to take over as the superintendent at New Home.

Familiarity appeared to be a big factor in the hiring of Peterson, who has been in the district since 2016 as a teacher and coach at Randall, spending the last two years in CISD’s athletic office. That experience gave him a concept of what it would take to run a successful athletic district like the one in Canyon.

“I’ve always had a dream of being an athletic director and every step of my journey has been a part of it,” said Peterson, a McKinney native who’s a University of Texas-Tyler graduate. “Going back and getting my Masters and working on the education side when I was at Randall, and of course working at the administration office underneath Toby was huge for me in my growth. I’ve always had that goal and it just feels so good to accomplish that goal in the best athletic department not only in the Panhandle but in the state, so I’m very excited.”

It’s hard to imagine stepping into a more ideal situation than Peterson is. Two CISD schools, Randall and Canyon, are Nos. 1-2 respectively in the UIL’s Class 4A Lone Star Cup standings marking success in athletic and other extracurricular activities. CISD’s newest high school, West Plains, ranks No. 11 in the standings.

Those numbers are likely to stay the same at worst. All three CISD teams are still alive in the baseball playoffs, Randall and West Plains are still alive in softball, and Canyon girls golf is playing in the state tournament this week. Last year, Randall won the 4A Lone Star Cup.
That success obviously inspired Peterson to want to take over the reigns of the department.

“I’ve said it multiple times before, there’s no better place than Canyon ISD right now, whether it’s education or the Lone Star Cup or the long playoff runs,” Peterson said. “It’s just such a great place to be and work every single day.”

Peterson was a familiar face to CISD for several years when the top spot in the athletic department came open, so his candidacy for the job seemed natural. The opening attracted several applicants both near and far and almost 10 interviewed formally for the job.

In the end, CISD superintendent Darryl Flusche knew he had the right person for the job already in place.

“We had a chance to work with (Peterson) and see his interaction with the coaches and the athletes and understand the coordination which is necessary when you have three high schools and three junior highs,” Flusche said. “The athletic director has such a demand for time requirements, not only during the day, but in the evening events. You’re looking at someone who needs to have a work ethic and demonstrate that on a regular basis and has a great attitude, and John Peterson’s the man for the job.”

One of the things Peterson is going to have to do is replace some successful coaches.
Haleigh Burns, who led Randall’s volleyball team to a state championship in 2022 and three state finals appearances, took the head coaching job at Amarillo High.

Leslie Broadhurst, Randall’s boys basketball coach since the school opened in 1988 and led the Raiders to the state tournament each of the last two seasons, announced his retirement Monday to deal with an illness.

Peterson has a definite philosophy in developing programs on campus.

“We do such a good job at Canyon ISD of just pouring into people,” Peterson said. “I firmly believe the more you pour into people the more you get out of them. When we do have those openings and can just plug and play and get those people into the right positions.”

All three CISD high schools have had successful athletic seasons by any standard, and 2024-25 should be even more intriguing. For the first time since West Plains opened in 2022, they’ll share the same district in every sport, as West Plains will move up to 4A Division I in joining Canyon and Randall in the same football district.

Peterson has discovered all three schools have a distinct vibe.

“I’ve seen that this is what Randall does, this is what Canyon does and this is what West Plains does and see the culture at those different schools and embrace that,” Peterson said. “It’s something I’ve done a lot of homework on. I love working with the boys and girls campus coordinators on that level.”

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