by John Unrein
The impact of a hiring a new head coach at the high school level is felt in many ways. Some of those influences are noticeable on the surface, the others not as much. High school activities and sports are best served by consistent leadership. Therefore, the hiring of a new head coach for any program is a hire that an activities director and school administration wants to get right so that steadiness prevails in the development of student athletes.
The effects of the person selected to be at the helm of a high school athletic program comes with many questions. Is a candidate able to convince someone that they can motivate today’s young people and communicate with them effectively? Do they have a track record of winning and solid knowledge of the sport based on their background? Are they willing to adapt their philosophy to the players and assistant coaches they have, or will they be able to mold them into what they except and how long will it take to get the needed execution to be successful? Are they able to build positive relationships in and out of the classroom with students, fellow educators, other head coaches, parents, and community members? Is this their dream job or do they view it as a steppingstone? Are they convincing that they will be able handle the demands put on them by their job in managing a work-life balance?
Grain Valley High School Activities Director Brandon Hart is currently going through the process of identifying a new head coaching candidate for the Lady Eagles volleyball program. Hart shared his thoughts on what the candidate selection process looks like and what he seeks in a head coach.
“I would say head coaching experience is preferred in most cases, but not an absolute necessity. We try to evaluate each individual program and come up with a wish list based off the current reality of a program. It generally varies…sometimes we prefer experience and sometimes we prefer youthful energy. At the end of the day, we ask ourselves if this candidate is a good fit for our program,” Hart said.
Identifying the biggest attribute a candidate should possess is married to the needs of the program. An activity director must have a pulse on the health and personality of a team when trying to marry the right person to the job for the success of all involved.
“Identifying the biggest attribute or trait we seek in a head coach is a tough question because it depends on the identified needs of the program. I don’t know if you have a ‘one size fits all’ approach to hiring coaches. That being said, I think the trait we generally look for in a high school head coach is his or her ability to relate to kids,” Hart said.
“Will this candidate be a positive influence on the kids, school, and community? If a coach can form strong and positive relationships with kids, they can be successful in a high school program. High school programs should be judged more on the positive impact they have on kids than on a win-loss record.”
Some activity directors may go by feel they have for a candidate they develop through the interview process. Others may use a specific tool like a four quadrant matrix, that among other things assesses climate (relationships) and performance (knowledge) based on the answers provided by an applicant. Hart prefers to use both.
“As mentioned previously,
relationships are probably the most important attribute, but if relationship building is ranked 1A, knowledge of the sport is arguably ranked 1B,” Hart said.
“The reality is a coach needs to connect with kids, but kids will likely not buy into a program if the coach lacks knowledge/skills in the arena they are coaching. Both relationships and knowledge are extremely important, and really serves as the cornerstone ‘look fors’ in our evaluation process.”
Once someone satisfies the requirements and hunches of the activity director, administrative team, or committee they interviewed with and emerge as the potential new head coach, the vetting process begins. School districts like Grain Valley do background checks that require fingerprinting and clearance from law enforcement. Hart goes past that and contacts three references for the identified candidate before making a job offer.
Upon acceptance of the job to be a new head coach and the other needed requirements fulfilled, attention then turns to welcoming the newest member of the Eagles family.
“We introduce our new head coaches in a variety of ways. We try to release information to stakeholders first (players, coaches, etc.). We will also try to have a team meeting to introduce a coach if they are new to the district…we may not need to have a team meeting if it is an internal candidate. Social media is probably the most effective way to communicate new hires,” Hart said.
With just 23% of City of Grain Valley voters showing up at the polls, Chuck Johnston was elected Mayor, beating incumbent Michael Todd 48% to 39%. Voters soundly defeated Questions 1 and 2, requesting more than $38 million in bonds to develop a community campus on the former Sni-A-Bar Farms site. In Ward 1, incumbent Alderman Jayci Stratton ran unopposed and received 97.39% of the vote; Bob Headley also ran unopposed in Ward 3, winning 97.78% of the vote. Rick Knox was elected as Alderman in Ward 2, receiving 69.81% of the vote.
Grain Valley Schools received strong support for its bond issue to add additional fine arts space at the high school. The question passed with 66.71% of the vote. Incumbent school board members Jeff Coleman, Tisha Homfeld, and Jan Reding were each reelected, with first time candidate Jeff Wolff as a close contender.
See Thursday’s edition of Grain Valley News for the full story.
The municipal election originally scheduled for April 7th will take place Tuesday, June 2nd and Grain Valley voters will have a full slate of issues to decide on. Three candidates vie for Mayor, and aldermen seats are open in each of the City’s three districts.
Jeff Craney, Chuck Johnston, and Michael Todd are running for Grain Valley Mayor. District 1 Alderman Jayci Stratton is running unopposed, as is District 3 Alderman Bob Headley. In District 2, Joey Burgett and Rick Knox are running for one open seat.
Grain Valley Schools has placed a $14.5 million no tax increase bond issue on the ballot to fund the addition of instructional spaces primarily dedicated to performing arts, including the addition of a band room, percussion room, instrument storage, practice rooms, black box theater, storage and stagecraft area, and a new choir room.
Voters will also select three school board members from a slate of five candidates. Candidates for school board include incumbents Jeff Coleman, Tisha Holmfeld, and Janis (Jan) Reding, and candidates Jeff Wolff and Justin Wulff.
Residents will also decide on a proposed community campus project to be funded through a no tax increase general obligation bond. The last time voters were asked by the City to issue bonds was April 2011.
Plans for the site include a new civic facility which will house the City Hall, police department, and municipal court. The facility will also include common space and community meeting spaces. The approximate square footage of the civic offices is 31,000 square feet. The size of the current City Hall, Police Department, and Municipal Court is a combined 16,000 square feet.
Additionally, the proposed campus includes a new community center to include an indoor pool. The proposed center will be approximately 45,000 square feet.
Plans also outline areas for a play structure, splash pad, and some degree of trail completion at the site.
Two separate questions on the ballot addressing the proposed campus will require super majority approval. Question One calls for a $23.5 million bond, and Question Two calls for a bond in the amount of $15,350,000. Cities may only issue general obligation bonds after obtaining approval of four-sevenths (57.!%) of the qualified voters of the municipality voting on a question.
The Jackson County Election Board is asking voters to check their polling location before heading to the polls on June 2nd. Registered voters in eastern Jackson County should have received a letter from the Jackson County Election Board which replaced the traditional “poll notification card” postcard. The letter includes the voter’s polling place information, address, directions, and other information about the upcoming election. The Board sent more detailed information as many polling locations changed for this election.
Voters who will be unable to get to their poll on Election Day may vote absentee at the Jackson County Election Board office at 215 N. Liberty, Independence from 8:30am until 5:00pm Monday – Friday. The office will also be open on Saturday, May 30 from 8:30am until 12:30pm for absentee voting.
The Jackson County Election Board has taken measures to protect both the voters and poll workers on Election Day. Poll workers will wear masks and gloves. Poll workers and voters will have easy access to hand sanitizer, surfaces will be disinfected regularly, distancing will be enforced, and voters will be given a pen/stylus to use and keep instead of an “I VOTED” sticker. In addition, voters may choose to vote “curbside” instead of coming inside to vote. Polls will be open 6:00am – 7:00pm.
Randi Prichard, 5th grade student at Stony Point Elementary was presented with the Safe Rider of the Year Award for the 2019-20 school year. Prichard is pictured with her bus driver, Mrs. Connie Azcona. Photo credit: Grain Valley Schools
Randi Prichard, 5th grade student at Stony Point Elementary, was recently awarded the Grain Valley Schools Safe Rider of the Year award for the 2019-20 school year. The award came with a $100 prize. The award is usually presented at a year-end school assembly, but this year Prichard’s bus driver, Connie Azcona, delivered the award to Prichard’s home by school bus.
Shawn Brady, Director of Transportation for Grain Valley Schools, explains Prichard represents the “best of the best”.
“Each month during the school year, the elementary bus drivers select a student on their bus to be recognized for excellence in Safety and Citizenship on the bus. At the end of the year, each driver reviews their winners and nominate who they felt was their 'best of the best',” Brady said.
Plans after high school: I am taking prerequisites for the Police Academy at Metropolitan Community Colleges.
Highlights of your career as a student athlete: My favorite highlight is summer conditioning. Coming from a Class 5 school (William Chrisman) to a Class 4 school, you’ll tend to snoot your nose at the school that you’re currently going to be attending because of how small it looks. When I stepped into Grain Valley’s locker room for the first time and started meeting the coaching staff, all I felt was energy in the locker room. It gave me the chills, and I then knew what Grain Valley football was all about. Grain Valley football works very hard during the summer. It’s extreme conditioning. I would say that if you put Grain Valley against any class 5 or higher class school, we will outwork them during summer conditioning. Sweat & tiredness to Grain Valley is like fresh blood to a shark. Grain Valley football enjoys sweating in the summer; it’s like a water park.
What was the biggest lesson you learned as a student athlete?
Some of the biggest lessons as a student athlete was “making my bed”, meaning do the little things so that you could be successful because the little things do count in the long run.
I would like to say thank you to the entire coaching staff for such a welcoming environment, but I wanted to give a special thank you to Coach Carpino. I’m pretty sure he’s been called lots of names due to the fact that he doesn’t let you quit, and he doesn’t let you make excuses. Many people don’t see that, although it should enlighten some people. Coach Carpino pays attention to everything, and he will call you out if you’re not doing something right. I just wanted to thank him because he taught me many life skills, such as not making excuses for your 50% effort. This isn’t just for sports, it’s a lifestyle.