by John Unrein
Former University of North Carolina Head Basketball Coach Dean Smith is credited with saying, “There are two important things to do when teaching basketball, praise behavior that you want repeated and knowing what to do with a mistake. You should recognize a mistake, admit it, learn from it, and forget it.”
High school summer basketball camps like the one held at Grain Valley High School the week of July 20th allow coaches to offer affirmation of positive actions on the court as well as constructive questions and criticism that provide growth. Sneakers were squeaking on the hardwood and nets were swishing as the Eagles boys’ basketball team worked on offensive and defensive basketball fundamentals.
Floor spacing and passing angle sessions for competitive points was part of the menu of drills directed by Eagles Head Boys Basketball Coach Andy Herbert. The benefits of floor spacing in basketball have become paramount from the professional level of the National Basketball Association all the way down to the high school ranks.
By an offense using good spacing in basketball, the defense must cover more territory and has a harder time giving help when recovering to get back to their man or space on the floor they are to defend. Teams who efficiently use floor spacing and motion like the Eagles in their offense are a headache for opposing teams. Defenses must be well conditioned to face the five stressful elements that good floor spacing creates.
Basketball Coaches Clipboard online breaks down the strain that terrific floor spacing in motion offenses creates for opposing defenses.
First, spacing makes it harder to defend against dribble penetration as the help defenders have further distance to cover when coming off their man. Consequently, spacing makes it harder to defend perimeter shooters, as the help side defender in the paint has more distance to cover in getting back to the shooter.
Next, spacing makes it harder to defend post players. Teams that double team the low post will have a more difficult time when players are spaced apart. Good spacing also allows for hi-low passing from one post player to another when players are spread out across the arc.
Effective floor spacing also makes it harder to defend cutters maneuvering towards the basket. Lastly, excellent floor spacing makes it harder for a defense to deny passing lanes.
Herbert takes a cerebral approach with his players during practice to reinforce understanding so that playing efficiency gets better. A lesson that gives players a breather as well as connecting the mental aspect of the game with the kinesthetic.
“Why did you guys win that set? Correct, offensive rebounding. Don’t watch the ball, find a body and get position. You have to be in constant motion when we space the floor. Trust your eyes and compete for the ball if it doesn’t go in,” Herbert said.
“If you are the first guy coming off the back screen or flare, you have to move. The ball being dribbled should not interfere with or be in the way of other movement. Also, with spacing we cannot get caught in no man’s land. Get to your landmarks so that we have options and the defense is stretched.”
Two returning varsity players paying close attention to Herbert’s instructions at camp are seniors Keeton Maxon and John Haywood. Maxon is getting reps in the low post at camp, while Haywood is running the point for the Eagles, a role that got Haywood more playing time in late last season with the Eagles.
“I have enjoyed getting up early and knowing I’m going to get to play basketball with all my friends,” Haywood said.
“I miss my older teammates as well. It’s weird being in here without them. No more Caden (Matlon), Josh (Kilpatrick), or AJ (Salisbury). I’m one of the old guys now.”
“Ball fakes, familiarizing myself with offensive sets, and learning how to become more comfortable in the paint have been what I’ve tried to work on the most this week at camp.”
Haywood concluded, “Defensively, we need to work on closing out better when an opponent drives on us. No easy shots should be allowed against us.”
Maxon offered his assessment as well on the week of work put in at camp.
“Competing and getting to see everyone again has been special. I have missed the chance to compete and get better,” Maxon said.
“Knowing the offense and executing it better has led to more open shots for me. Using my post presence to make better passes has also been an emphasis.”
Maxon continued, “Talking more on defense has allowed us to defeat screens better. Knowing our defensive assignment whether we are on the ball or the help side is assisting us in limiting more shots. That will be important to carry into the season.”
Anyone who has had the pleasure of setting up a new computer or smart TV in their home can appreciate what a hassle it can be to unbox, install, connect to Wi-Fi, and run endless software updates on these devices. Multiply that experience by 130 and you have some sense of the task completed by Dave Feagens, a Low Voltage Technician with Grain Valley Schools and his crew in late June and early July.
The district purchased new Promethean touchscreen boards to be installed over the summer. With the shutdowns this spring and delayed start of summer school, the installation of the boards became more complicated than expected. Nick Gooch, Assistant Superintendent of Support Services, explained the logistics of installing the boards was one of two big issues.
“We had a company quote us to unbox and remove the old Promethean boards and install new boards. The total cost was $40,000 to complete this task. And none of it would have been done prior to summer school. Dave grabbed a couple summer staff and was able to start the process early. This allowed the summer school staff to get the boards early, and him doing this for us saved the district the $40,000,” Gooch said.
In his report to the Grain Valley School Board during their July 16th meeting, Gooch took a moment to give a shout out to Feagens.
“Feagens and his crew did a 1/3 of the work in a matter of five days. I couldn’t believe he was able to get that work done that quickly. I was thoroughly impressed. They worked really hard, really quickly to get our teachers the equipment they needed,” Gooch said.
As Low Voltage Technician, Feagens installs and administers all the security cameras in the district, which stands at around 297 cameras by his count. Feagens is also responsible for handling network drops and technology such as the Promethean boards. As Feagens described it, the labor side of IT.
Feagens, who has been with the district for 9 years, emphasized his co-workers made the task of installing the new touchscreens possible.
“This year has been a little messed up. We had the shutdown, and then we came back and start into our regular pace, and then the IT department asked us to come have a meeting and that is when this started.”
Feagens and his crew got to work, unboxing, building the stands for each screen, setting up and installing firmware, and connecting each to Wi-Fi.
The 75-inch touchscreens weigh in at 140 pounds a piece, and bring a new level of flexibility in the classroom. The boards are mounted on mobile carts, so teachers can easily change the arrangement of their classroom as needed. Teachers can sync their laptops to the boards to share lessons or utilize one of the self-supporting programs. The screens are also significantly larger than the prior version, so students can spread out further from the screen, which is particularly important in the age of COVID-19.
COVID-19 has not changed the work of the custodial and maintenance staff, but it does add an extra level of awareness, Feagens explained.
“As maintenance staff, our main focus will be to be even more aware of our self as well as our environment in terms of what we touch in the space we work in.”
As the public continues to debate how to safely return students and teachers to the classroom in the fall, a quiet crew of professionals plans stepped-up efforts to ensure they can do so.
“Especially during this time, we often lose sight of the people who actually come in and do that work. Most of the time people don’t see the custodians and operations staff and how important the work they do is to keep students and staff safe, and resolve issues quickly so the class doesn’t have to be interrupted,” Feagens said.
Grain Valley High School 2020 graduates were finally able to gather for commencement and toss their caps during a ceremony held at the University of Central Missouri on Friday, July 24th. Students donned masks along with their caps and gowns and were seated to allow for required physical distancing.
Superintendent Marc Snow welcomed students and their parents.
“Tonight may not have looked exactly like we all thought it would, or held on the date we intended, but every one of us believes the ceremony and recognition of graduation is something we could not do without. It was important for us to be here and celebrate together,” Snow said.
Valley News asked Grain Valley High School Principal Dr. Jeremy Plowman about this graduating class, and Plowman expressed his pride in this class of students.
“This class had to overcome so much adversity, especially the past three months. I would not wish this on anyone, but the class of 2020 has handled it with class and grace,” Plowman said.
“They have graduated at a unique and tumultuous time in the world. If there is ever a time we need passionate, empathetic, and caring young adults, it is now. This year will always be known for the coronavirus pandemic, but it can also be known for jumpstarting a new leadership in our country. Never will our graduates have as much control over their own destiny as they do now.”
Class speaker Piper Barnard, graduating Summa Cum Laude and Missouri Bright Flight Scholar, praised her class for being “brilliantly resilient” and encouraged each student to use this time to embrace their passions and use them to make a difference in the world.
“Now is the time for us. Now is the time to figure out what we care about. Now is the time to fall in love with the world and our passions….Now is the time to fail and fall back on our community. Now is the time to embrace diversity,” Barnard said.
Grain Valley High School social studies teacher Eric Ball was selected by the student body to speak at the commencement ceremony.
Ball gave a rousing speech, asking the students to stand and yell “2020” as he called out their various plans after graduation, including college, military service, mission service, trade schools, and travel.
“There is nothing for me to say, because hear their voices. This is what you should hear. Not what the media or the news says. Not out of a sound of pity or a sorry feeling. Not the noise from recent events that have occurred. Hear them,” Ball exclaimed.
The 276 graduates were awarded over $4 million in scholarships to post-secondary institutions.
“Athletically and activities-wise, this class has had more State qualifiers, conference, and District champions than any previous class. Academically, they continue to be among the top schools in the Kansas City metro area in taking advanced placement classes and being prepared. 98% of this class graduated on time,” Plowman said.
The Grain Valley School Board voted to approve the issuance and sale of $8 million in general obligation bonds during its July 16th meeting. The board plans to issue another $6.5 million in bonds in January. The bond sale is a result of the $14 million bond issue passed on June 2nd.
Superintendent Dr. Marc Snow informed the board it would be 2024 before another bond issue could be considered.
Improvements and construction around the district are in full swing, ranging from a soft remodel and carpet upgrade at Sni-A-Bar Elementary, to the renovation of the high school’s performing arts center and new parking lot on the east side of the high school.
Assistant Superintendent of Academic Services Beth Mulvey updated the board on summer school, stating the students and teachers were both eager and excited to return to the classroom and are managing COVID-19 related changes well.
“Students deal with the mask requirement much better than adults do,” Mulvey said.
Board member Jeff Coleman raised the issue of how the schools are monitoring how students who have an exemption from wearing masks are being treated by other students. Coleman shared he has an exemption to Jackson County’s mask mandate due to health reasons.
“I’m one of the exemptions, but if I don’t wear a mask, everyone just swarms on me. I just want to know how are we treating those kids with other kids who may be giving them a hard time for not wearing a mask,” Coleman said.
“I’ve not had any reports of anyone being mistreated. However, we’ve only had three students out of the entire summer school population request an exemption, and no teachers,” Mulvey said.
“We’ll take care of that the same way we take care of any bullying incident. Fortunately, it hasn’t been an issue.”
The district anticipates releasing plans regarding the 2020-21 school year later this week. Families were asked this summer to indicate whether they intended to return to the classroom or request a virtual option.
“If a child is going to be virtual to start the school year, we’re going to ask them to make at least a nine week commitment on that,” Dr. Brad Welle, Deputy Superintendent of Student and Community Services, said.
Welle indicated he has talked with several families regarding concerns and emphasized the district is simply asking families to indicate their intentions at this point so administrators can plan accordingly. As of last week’s meeting, 65 families had requested to participate in a virtual option.
“Parents get to change their mind. It’s too important a decision for us to lock them in at this point. We’re just trying to plan ahead, so we’re asking people now what their intention is,” Welle said.
In other business, the Education Foundation’s golf tournament has been postponed to October 16th due to COVID-19.
by John Unrein
Mind over matter was a big part of the Lady Eagles Tennis Camp the week of July 13th at Grain Valley High School. Keeping thoughts focused on competition instead of the sweltering heat were the intentions of Head Girls Tennis Coach Blake Thorne and Assistant Coach Randy Draper.
“Don’t be fooled. It’s not as hot as it looks. We’ve got a strong breeze coming off (Lake) Jacomo over here on this court,” Draper said.
Draper would interject questions and commentary in between drills and at water breaks as this was the most common time legitimate complaints would come from camp participants about the heat and humidity.
“What’s the best flavor of Mountain Dew? That’s a trick question, they’re all pretty good. Don’t step on that beetle. He has an important place in this world. Who can name me all four Beatles? I’ll give you a hint, the silent one was known as George Harrison.”
“What’s he talking about,” was a common initial response to Draper’s questions and comments by participants prior to engaging in conversation about Code Red being their favorite flavor of Mountain Dew or that they couldn’t name all the Beatles, but they had seen the movie Yesterday.
Camp was conducted in a rotational drill manner. Volley work, service practice, and doubles competition for points with coaches dropping in serve to start was part of the drill menu. The sequencing of drills kept camp attendees moving and avoiding boredom.
Constant encouragement and constructive criticism were offered by Thorne and Draper to help players improve.
“Forward and across with your racket when you’re stepping,” Draper said.
“I’d rather have two rackets clang together than have two good players watch the ball go by when we’re doing doubles.”
Draper continued, “When we try to teach the ball a lesson, it often comes out wrong. Focus on getting the ball over the net by contact first.”
Twenty-one high school girls were in attendance for camp. Upperclassmen Chelsea Gorden and Alyssa Owens are among those returning with varsity experience. Both Gorden and Owens are fresh off their first place finish in varsity doubles during the first of two Kansas City Summer Slam Series Tennis events.
“I look forward to being around the team again. We have some new friendships to forge as we graduated a lot of seniors last year,” Gorden said.
“I want us to keep winning conference. That’s definitely one of our goals. Us practicing with a focus will help us be good this upcoming season.”
Gorden concluded, “Playing matches out here helps us get back in the groove. You can practice hitting and serving on your own, but with so many USTA tournaments being cancelled this summer, this is important practice for us.”
The landscape of camp affords an opportunity for incoming freshmen to seniors to work on tennis fundamentals. The repetition of practicing swings, being in the habit of moving their feet, and getting work on hand eye coordination with a racket is something intended to make the start of high school tennis a little bit easier during the month of August.
“Youngsters won’t feel completely out of place when they walk into practice in a month. The kids that are more advanced will get to work on a couple of shots that will help elevate their game as well. It never hurts to see everyone else in this setting to know where you are as a player. We all want to improve,” Draper said.
Draper continued, “I have missed tennis. I love the competition. Both individual and team sports (as I coach both) have merit. In an individual game, if you win, you know why. If you lose, you know why.”
“There’s a motivation that comes out of this sport because it’s hard to hide on the tennis court. I love to watch a kid being able to hit a shot that a couple of weeks ago was a disaster. The look on their face when they get into matches and can then make that shot is awesome.”
Mohandas Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Janis “Jan” Reding has been serving the community of Grain Valley since she moved here with her family in 1977. Grain Valley News has received multiple nominations to tell Reding’s story in the Community Profile section of the newspaper. We are delighted to do so.
Reding’s service to her community reads like a grocery list of involvement and good deeds. Reding has been a member of FOCUS for Grain Valley (formerly Optimist Club of Grain Valley) since 1997. A member of the Grain Valley Historical Society since 1999, Reding is currently completing her 8th year as Secretary for the organization.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of attending “Trivia Night” for the Grain Valley Assistance Council, you know of Reding’s devotion to those in need within our community. Reding has been on the Board of Directors for the Assistance Council since 1998.
Not only do the Assistance Council’s “Trivia Nights” raise money to feed Grain Valley families, they help transform our community in a positive manner with the fellowship that comes out of intellectual thinking and conversation during the event. Reding is always quick to thank those who donate their winnings instead of keeping it for themselves. The smile and kind words are heart felt and sincere for anyone who has ever heard them from Reding.
Other commitments for Reding include: Member of the Pillar of the Community Awards Committee, volunteer at the Monterey Park Nursing Center for 21 years, Member of the Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) in Grain Valley since 2013, and Member of the task force for Economic Development and Master Planning in Grain Valley. This list is extensive and likely not inclusive of all Reding’s efforts.
Perhaps the capstone of Reding’s community involvement can be found in her love for children and her passion for learning. Reding was recently elected to serve another term as a member of the Grain Valley R-5 School Board. A post she has consecutively been elected to since 1999.
Reding credits her father for the importance that education has played in her life. A former superintendent of a small school district in Steffenville, Missouri, Reding’s dad was constantly teaching her to manage things should she ever be alone. Reding happily soaked up the knowledge as her father’s shadow growing up.
“His rule was ‘plan your work and work your plan.’ He was always telling me, ‘Never let a day go by without learning something new.’ He instilled in me wanting to be involved with schools and supporting children,” Reding said.
“I started in Grain Valley by being a school volunteer coordinator and then ran for a position on the school board. For the last 21 years on the board, I have watched our school district grow and become one of the best in the nation, and thanks to the patrons of our wonderful city, I am able to continue my service on the board for another three years.”
Reding continued, “I can say without question, that every member of our district staff is dedicated to providing the highest level of education to our students. Thanks to the wonderful support of our district’s patrons who pass our school bond issues, we continue to provide the safest and most efficient learning facilities for our students.”
Reding’s determination to give back to her community has been extensively generous across the three facets of contributions.
First, Reding loves reading and believes promoting literacy with children is great way to give them a better tomorrow. Each year, during the annual Scholastic Book Fair, Reding selects two schools (on rotation throughout the district) and permits teachers to select two books to add to their classroom library or take home to share with their children. Reding pays for this out of her own pocket. It helped her secure the moniker as the “secret donor” before her identity was revealed.
Next, Reding wanted to establish a scholarship for a Grain Valley student whose career path was either in education or business at the University of Central Missouri in honor of her father, Lyle H. Allen.
Lastly, a donation of $10 to the Grain Valley Education Foundation for every “A” her son and three granddaughters made while completing their undergraduate degrees rounds out Reding’s donations.
“During the last two Bright Futures annual meetings, Dr. Brad Welle (Grain Valley School District Deputy Superintendent of School and Community Services) and I have given a presentation on how to engage grandparents to volunteer in their school districts. I tell them about my $10 for every ‘A’ and have heard that there were many who took the idea and ran with it,” Reding said.
Grain Valley School District Superintendent Dr. Marc Snow is among those proud to call Reding one of their own.
“Jan Reding has served the community of Grain Valley as a member of the school board for over 20 years. Her legacy as a board member can best be described as ‘making sure every decision that she makes puts students front and center.’ Her legacy as a citizen of Grain Valley can, in part, be described as serving others first,” Snow said.
“During Reding’s time on the school board, the district’s enrollment has easily more than doubled. She has been a part of building two middle schools, two elementary schools, an early childhood center, a maintenance building, and a transportation center – not to mention the numerous additions done along the way.”
“Academically, she has seen the district move from little-known to nationally recognized. I am convinced that the many positive changes would not have happened if Jan was not involved.”
Snow concluded, “Jan Reding is simply the best Grain Valley has to offer. She loves her community, loves people, and loves serving others.”
Reding’s knowledge attained serving in leadership positions and working as the building manager for the Power & Light Building in Kansas City for 37 years prior to retiring in 1994 due to her husband’s illness has left her with a wealth of knowledge. Reding is not shy in her willingness to share advice with others who will listen.
“Make every day count. Do the things that make you happy and content. I am an outside person, and I love to mow. I watch the birds follow me as I blow the insects out of the grass, and I love to see the squirrels chase one another from tree to tree. When I am finished, I marvel at how lovely and clean everything looks,” Reding said.
“Life is too short to waste a minute on feeling sorry for yourself. If you must choose between reading a book or do the ironing, read a book – the ironing can wait!”
It was a joy for Grain Valley News to research Reding’s life. Numerous residents of Grain Valley went out of their way to contribute to this story. They were all happy to share how Reding makes our community stronger.
Have a nomination for our Community Profile feature? Email your nominations to email@example.com.
by John Unrein
Humidity and heat greeted the Grain Valley Eagles Football Team during their on the field activities and conditioning the week of July 6th. Frequent water breaks, social distancing, and coaches providing instruction through masks were the new norms of the Eagles progressing through their 2020 offseason.
Whether it be a surgical mask, or a facemask, there are old and new faces adorning themselves on the field for the Eagles. Senior quarterbacks Cole Keller and Parker Bosserman are sharing reps with the varsity offense. Senior linebacker Hunter Newsom and defensive lineman Quincy Jones return as well for the Eagles blackshirt defense.
Keller has shown proficiency providing accurate downfield strikes on slant routes and play action post patterns behind safeties. This is old hat for Keller and something his right arm excels at regularly. Keller continues to show no ill effects of the knee injury that ended his 2019 season prematurely.
Bosserman has picked up where he left off last season when he filled in for the injured Keller at quarterback. Judgement to keep or pitch on option plays has been sound for Bosserman. It has also allowed him to showcase his quickness in getting into the Eagles defensive backfield during scrimmages.
Jones returns along Grain Valley’s defensive line along with senior teammate Donovan McBride to provide notable size. Jones has found his voice in being a more vocal leader for the Eagles defense. He also turned in one of the better defensive plays for the Eagles on July 6th.
Stemming (realigning quickly prior to the snap to throw off the blocking assignment of the offense) late in front of the offensive guard allowed for Jones to get penetration into the Eagles offensive backfield. Jones reward was meeting a wide receiver coming across the formation on a reverse prior to knocking the football out of his grasp.
“I’m comfortable in my own skin. If I do something wrong, I admit it. If I see someone else doing something wrong, I’m going to say something about it. Once you get comfortable communicating honestly, you play better,” Jones said.
“I got off the ball today at times well. The play on the reverse was one of those times. To be honest, I feel like I could’ve played better today. Film will tell that story. It’s our first day in pads though and there’s always room for improvement.”
Newsom on the other hand, is an old face in a new place for the Eagles. Fullback was a spot that Newsom shared with teammate Seth Dankenbring last year. Both players brought their physical mentality from their linebacker position to block and catch for the offensive side of the football. Dankenbring is awaiting graduation as a member of the Class of 2020. Newsom is learning the new offensive position of tailback in the Eagles’ offense.
To be asked to play both ways is a sign of respect in football. Being trusted to learn and execute things as an offensive and defensive player is not easy. It takes lots of physical reps, mental preparation, and acceptance of coaching. Newsom is preparing for both as a returning starter on defense and learning the nuances of ball protection, block reading, and pass protection schemes as a tailback on offense.
“I was a running back in youth football. I have enjoyed getting back to my routes. Getting asked to go both ways is a challenge I am willing to meet to help this team win,” Newsom said.
“If you think, it will slow you down. Both positions I play on each side of the football are about reaction. Our coaches give us permission to make mistakes early on in this process as long as we do them full speed.”
Newsom did not hesitate when asked which side of the football he likes better and why.
“On defense you are free. There’s a mentality you must possess being a member of our blackshirt defense. Seek and destroy the football. React to what you see and don’t hesitate.”
Guiding Newsom on his growth in the offensive backfield is assistant varsity football coach Chris Pate. Grain Valley is home for Pate and his family. Pate will be wrapping up a decade as a teacher in the Grain Valley School District this school year. It will also be his seventh season as part of the football staff.
Pate brings a wealth of knowledge with him as the new varsity running back coach for the Eagles. An all-state selection as a linebacker as well as being an all-conference running back during his prep days at Wellington-Napoleon High School is something that Pate acknowledges but does not like to elaborate on out of modesty.
Pate has also served as a head football coach at Crest Ridge, Missouri, along with a stint as the defensive coordinator at William Chrisman High School in Independence, Missouri. Prior coaching experience is one of the reasons why Pate has pushed fundamentals and their proper execution by the players he coaches so far during team camp and on the field activities.
“Ball security and knowing what to do on each play has been the primary focus for us. It doesn’t matter how much talent you possess as a runner, if you don’t hold onto the football you can’t play for us,” Pate said.
“Reading the hole with how fast things happen in this offense (with pulling offensive lineman) is also something that grows out of confidence from reps and improving your reaction. Lastly, you must be willing to block.”
Pate concluded, “I am excited be here and part of a successful staff that Coach Allie has built. I am looking forward to what lies ahead for us.”
by John Unrein
Grain Valley senior defensive back Brayden Terry is a returning starter in the Eagles secondary. His efforts during the 2019 campaign helped the Eagles to a 9-4 record and the Class 4, District 7 Championship. His not so little brother, Cooper, is a junior competing for a starting spot along the Eagles offensive line at right tackle.
The same last name, enjoyment of competition, and being proud of their school colors is not the biggest driving force that unites the two siblings. Instead, it is their love of football. Something instilled in them by their father, Mike Cooper.
“I like how much respect is given by your opponent when you compete hard against him. In between the start and end of the game you want to rip each other’s heart out, but afterward you share a connection. This is a brotherhood that grows out of competition,” Cooper Terry said.
Brayden Terry added, “I have loved football my whole life. My Dad played baseball growing up, but I can remember him watching and talking about football since I was little. There’s something about carrying the football and getting to be around your teammates. It creates a bond that’s hard to replace.”
“My only advice to my brother Cooper is to go crazy. Give this your all. Don’t be scared and whatever happens, happens. The best things occur when you are the one being the most physical.”
The youngest Terry has soaked up the advice of and latched on to both his older brother and best friend, Jack Bailey to serve as mentors. Bailey plays right guard and is a returning starter along the Eagles offensive line. It’s not been uncommon during football camp the week of June 29th to see the two talking about technique or line calls before or after a rep.
“Jack (Bailey) and I are around each other on and off the field. He plays right guard and I play right tackle. We have a chemistry to where we trust each other and listen to what the other one is saying. Off the field we share the same jokes and the same job. We both work at Price Chopper doing the same thing,” Cooper Terry said.
While Brayden Terry tends to be quiet and introverted, the opposite would be true of Cooper Terry, who is not bashful about his sense of humor. An example of this was apparent during a skip pull drill at camp where lineman skip to get depth out of their stance to build momentum before they continue their path to block the defender in front of them.
The younger Terry pulled out of his stance quickly prior to getting his feet tangled and falling. The laughs only grew from his peers when a fellow lineman got in a sniper stance on the ground in front of him with Terry falling again upon hearing “bang” without missing a beat. Varsity assistant offensive line coaches Mike Tarrants and Gavin Grillo worked hard to fight back a smile prior to correcting the needed footwork of those participating in the drill.
Both Terrys will have their work cut out for them as Grain Valley transitions to the Suburban Conference’s White Division or Middle Six this upcoming season. Belton, Fort Osage, Raytown, Truman, and William Chrisman will join Grain Valley to round out the division. Brayden will be facing athletic wide receivers, while Cooper will be blocking powerful edge rushers and linebackers. It’s a family affair they both look forward to.
by John Unrein
Fundamentals and their execution matter significantly in football. It should be no surprise then that the Grain Valley Eagles returned to the football field during team camp the week of June 29th focusing on simple things that matter. Mother Nature was good to those in attendance at camp with a breeze, overcast skies, and temperatures in the low 80’s.
Players have had the opportunity to see their coaches in the weight room since mid-June as well as meeting virtually with them. It’s hard to replace the physical repetitions you get through a camp setting through. Not to mention the comradery that builds from players getting to be around their peers and coaches.
Thirty-one of the ninety camp attendees for grades 9-12 worked in the north end zone of Moody Murray Stadium at Grain Valley High School in the offensive line group. Hip and ankle flexibility along with drive block progression and pass protection sets were on the drill menu. Social distancing of six feet was encouraged by assistant varsity offensive line coaches Mike Tarrants and Gavin Grillo.
“Drive progression may seem monotonous, but one inch in the trenches determines if you make or miss your block. The myelin around your nerve cells grow from this process. Our offense requires offensive lineman to be able to move 360 degrees,” Tarrants said in a loud and gruff voice.
“Retrace your steps and be light on your feet. Be athletic. No buffaloes in a water hole.”
One of the linemen paying keen attention to the instruction of Tarrants and Grillo is senior right guard Jack Bailey. A position Bailey has started at since he was a sophomore. The veteran of the offensive line has earned his stripes. Proof of that resides in Bailey’s selection last season as a first team Suburban Blue All-Conference selection.
Bailey is thrilled that football is back. He’s also excited to get the opportunity to play next to his best friend who’s competing for the starting job at right tackle.
“Football is a brotherhood. This is my second family. During the summer and fall, it’s my first family though because I spend so much time with these guys. I love all of them. Junior Cooper Terry is my best friend and we are going to have a lot of fun this season with him competing to be the starter at right tackle,” Bailey said.
“I have a leadership role on my shoulders this year as well. I have been here the longest of the guys up front. I have to lead by example by doing my job to the best of my ability and then communicating with those around me in holding them accountable.”
Bailey concluded, “I am passionate about this sport. I am hoping for a good and full season for us. I’ve watched quite a few Kansas City Chiefs replays during quarantine to get my football fix along with working out.”
The Eagles Blackshirt Defense was busy as well during camp. Defensive Coordinator Pete Carpino kept players engaged and on the move. Pursuit drill allowed for all eleven members of the defense to take proper angles in getting to the ball carrier. Alignment and assignment were repetitiously drilled through run fits and timing blitzes.
Carpino juggled many hats during tackling drills, including spraying disinfectant on the hands and arms after each member of the team concluded taking down the tackling ring.
“Keep your eyes up, wrap up with your head behind the ring, and drive your feet through the tackle. This helps us be sound as a defense and get off the field. Come see me each time after you’re done with the drill to get disinfectant,” Carpino said.
Highlighting the most competitive part of camp was the pass skeleton period done at the end of each practice. This segment allowed new and returning members of the offense and defensive secondary to go head to head. Among those motivating their teammates were two seniors, defensive back Trent Knox and quarterback Cole Keller.
Knox was determined to keep the offensive side of the football quiet by limiting their completions. Keller was mobile and accurate in his performance at quarterback, showing no ill effects of the knee injury that ended his 2019 season.
Eagles Head Football Coach David Allie was pleased with camp attendance and results.
“This week has been good. We have displayed a high energy level. These kids have missed football and it shows,” Allie said.
“This camp usually happens in May. We would put in our base schemes to take to Pitt State or whatever college camp we would attend. Right now, it’s baby steps. We’ve been installing our offense and defense. The incoming freshman run similar schemes at middle school. This is still new to them in a lot of ways and we try to set the foundation for them through teaching and repetition, so their confidence grows.”
Allie continued, “The start of football is still fun for me some twenty years in. I don’t sleep the night before out of anticipation. The day I don’t wake up excited to do this or eager to see kids is the day I’ll know it’s time to go. I’m still jazzed to be here and the joy on the kids faces has a lot to with that.”
In a June 22nd email to parents and community members, Grain Valley Schools announced a state budget shortfall of $1,086,997 for the district for the budget year ending June 30th. The shortfall in revenue is attributed to the impact of the stay at home orders instituted due to COVID-19.
The district stated it anticipates continued cuts in funding in the “foreseeable future”, and will take steps to review spending, including not filling some open staff positions in the coming school year.