WACO, Texas — Waco Independent School District Athletic Director Ed Love announced Linden Heldt as Waco High School’s new head football coach and athletic coordinator. Kent Laster was announced as his counterpart at University High School.
As defensive coordinator for South Grand Prairie High School, Heldt’s units have been recognized as one of the top defenses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for six years, according to Waco ISD.
Laster most recently served as head football coach at Central High School in Little Rock, AR, where, in less than two years, his team earned the state’s most improved record in 7A classification, according to Waco ISD.
“Coach Heldt has proven to be very successful playing against major 6A contenders like Duncanville and Mansfield,” Waco ISD Athletic Director Ed Love said. “The Lions have a tradition of strong defensive squads, and bringing in a defensive-minded head coach is a perfect fit to continue that legacy.”
During his time at South Grand Prairie, Heldt’s defense helped secure playoff spots in all six seasons. His defense steadily improved their statistics, initially ranking 45th and jumping up to the number 7 spot for Division 6A.
"I cannot wait to be part of the Waco High tradition and family,” Heldt said. “Waco High has a bright future with a proactive leadership and a desire to compete athletically at the highest level. Dr. Kincannon and Coach Love have shown a strong commitment in the renovation of Paul Tyson Field and desire to bring the best and brightest coaches to Waco ISD. I'm excited to serve the community and students of Waco High.”
Heldt previously coached at Arlington High School, Putnam City West in Oklahoma City, Canyon Creek Christian in Richardson and Merritt Island Christian in Florida. He was a prep linebacker at Southlake Carroll High School and played linebacker at Wheaton College where he also earned his bachelor's degree in Christian education in 2004. He completed a master’s degree in education and sport administration in 2010 at East Central University in Oklahoma, according to Waco ISD.
“Coach Laster has demonstrated that he builds successful programs,” Love said. “He’s turned around teams into district champions, and University is an ideal place to continue that success as he inherits a Trojan unit on the rise. And his experience coaching and recruiting at the college level will be a tremendous asset to our athletes.”
Laster has over 22 years of coaching experience. While at Frisco Heritage High School for nine years, he managed the boys track and field team, and worked as an offensive coordinator and assistant head football coach, leading several conference championship teams. He previously had similar football and track roles at Weatherford High School, according to Waco ISD.
“My family and I are extremely excited to join the Waco ISD community,” Laster said. “I look forward to building on the past successes of University High School and the opportunity for my family to become proud members of the local community. My goal will be to build winners who can compete and be better citizens from their experiences as student-athletes.”
Laster also spent nine years coaching football at various Division I and II colleges including the University of Tennessee-Martin, Texas State University, and Middle Tennessee State University. He received a bachelor of science in applied sociology with a minor in speech communication from Texas State University-San Marcos, and a master of liberal arts with an emphasis in history from Henderson State University in Arkansas, according to Waco ISD.
“These two coaching positions received tremendous interest from across the state,” Waco ISD Superintendent Dr. Susan Kincannon said. “I appreciate the thoroughness of Coach Love and his leadership team for their diligence reviewing applications and interviewing finalists. I’m confident that Linden and Kent will provide solid leadership for our student-athletes.”
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