by Michael Smith
Midway through his junior year in high school, Flip Courter’s life changed.
In middle school and his first two years in high school, his dream was to become a sports broadcaster.
“I probably was going to do radio because I have a good face for radio,” Courter joked.
Courter was playing basketball for a small school called North Daviess High School at the time, but right before the season started, he broke his hip. He was out with injury for three months, and during that time, his head coach, Randy Litrell had Courter sit next to him and serve as an assistant coach. The team didn’t have assistant coaches or managers, so he was able to fill that role for the team until he returned to play the last month of the season.
“I graduated in the class of seven kids,” Courter said. “This was in a town of 130 to 140 people. After I broke my leg, it sucked. I couldn’t sit up straight, and I had to sit up reclined. It was the most painful experience I’ve ever had.”
“I’d get dressed up and sit on the bench during games and I’d have a clipboard and take notes and help with stats. He also had me be like a teacher’s aide in his classroom. I was making copies and helping kids who were struggling. He went out of his way to make me feel important and still part of the team.”
That was that period of time that changed Courter’s career path as he went from wanting to be a sports broadcaster to having a desire to be a teacher and coach after a three-month stint as a de facto assistant basketball coach at North Daviess.
He’s spent multiple years as a coach and a teacher at different schools. His newest move will bring him home to Grain Valley as he will be a history and psychology teacher at the high school. He also will serve as an assistant coach for the softball and track and field teams after spending the last six years at William Chrisman High School in Independence.
“Everything that I have today is because of (the injury),” Courter said. “If that doesn’t happen, I would have probably stayed in broadcasting. Who knows, I might be working at ESPN right now. But you know what, I wouldn’t have my wife, I wouldn’t have my kids, I wouldn’t have my friends, I wouldn’t have the experience as a teacher for the last 21 years if the injury didn’t happen.
“Something bad that happened turned out to be something good.”
After he graduated from North Daviess, Courter went to Missouri Western State University and graduated with a degree in history and secondary education in 2001. He also got a degree in athletic administration at William Woods University in 2008.
Courter had multiple stops in his high school teaching and coaching career including North Mercer, Marionville, Lexington, Odessa and Crest Ridge high schools. He was also a head basketball coach at Lexington, Odessa and Crest Ridge for nine years before deciding to retire from being a head coach in 2016.
“I was chasing those head basketball coaching dreams and bouncing around from place to place,” Courter said. “Things have been settled down since I am not bouncing around from place to place because of basketball.”
It was actually a conversation with Caffrey that led to Courter stepping away from head coaching.
“I made the decision (to step down from being a head basketball coach) because of family. We had a late game one night at Cass-Midway and I was driving home one night so I stopped here at the house and went in to talk to Caffrey. I said, ‘Good night honey. I have to go. I will see you tomorrow.’ She said, ‘Where are you going?’ I said, ‘I have to go because of basketball.’ And she said, ‘You are always leaving because of basketball. That right there was the smack in the face where it’s like OK, I need to do something different.
“After the game, I decided to myself that I would finish the season and step down.”
After a six-year stint at Chrisman, Courter finds himself working in Grain Valley, where he has lived for the last 11 years. It was an easy decision for the veteran coach as he wanted to work closer to home and have more time to see his daughter Caffrey and son Casen play sports.
“The family factor was the No. 1 reason (for taking the job at Grain Valley High School),” Courter said. “(He and his family) will have the same schedule for the first time ever. That was a big draw, to have the same schedule as my kids.
“With Casen, he is right across the parking lot from my classroom. He goes to Sni-A-Bar (Elementary School). I will be able to drop him off on the way to school. I am excited about that. I am excited to be able to run over there and have lunch with him.”
The transition for Courter to his new high school should be a smooth one as he knows many of the patrons and teachers in Grain Valley. Courter also spoke with head softball coach Garrett Ogle on multiple occasions since Chrisman and Grain Valley were both in the Suburban White Conference.
Courter is also close friends with head boys track and field coach Erik Stone, who he will also be working with at Grain Valley.
“After the games, Garrett and I talked about someday working together,” Courter said. “Knowing the type of program Grain Valley has for softball is very exciting. In track, Coach Stone lives four houses down from me and his daughter and my daughter are besties. Me and Stone are flying out to Vegas here in a few weeks with our wives to celebrate our 20th anniversaries.”
“I have only heard good things about the high school. I am pretty excited to be a part of it.”
Correction (7/21/22 1:50pm): Headline corrected to more appropriately identify injury referred to in article.
Photo courtesy Flip Courter
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