Along with a new school year comes change, that’s inevitable. However, this year Sterling High School has experienced more change than usual especially with fall sports.
In almost every fall sport a new coach has been introduced or reintroduced to coaching the sport. Cheerleaders met their new cheer coach, Tana Day.
Cross Country was introduced to two familiar faces, previous Assistant Coach Larry Brownlee became the new Head Coach and bus driver Robert Humphreys joined the program as the new Assistant Coach.
Football saw a shift in coaching as Derek Schneider replaced Tyson Bauerle as the new Head Coach, Wes Laudermilk became the new Defensive Coordinator and Brian Richter came back as the new assistant coach.
In volleyball Wendy Calderwood took over as the C team coach, while tennis remained the same with Curtis Thompson at the helm.
A new face to Sterling High School Cheer, Day was very excited to be offered the job after Cacey Lacey stepped down due to an offer at the Sterling College.
“When they offered it to me I thought, ‘Oh that’s cool!’ I like cheer and I like hanging out with kids, so I thought it was a fun way to do both,” Day said.
Before being a cheer coach Day was a full time college student at Sterling College. Even though she’s never coached before she uses her eight years of experience, two years in junior high, all of high school, and two years in college, to lay down her goals for the girls.
“Basically, I laid out three goals for the year,” Day said. “First of all I want them to be better cheerleaders. That might mean hitting a stunt they’ve never hit before, or increasing their flexibility or learning a new trick; whatever it might be I want them to be better cheerleaders. I want them to have fun and enjoy it, but I also want them to be better individuals, so, the way they speak to each other, the way they listen to people in authority, the way they support their school, whatever it might be. So be a better cheerleader, have fun, and be better individuals.”
Cross Country may not be introducing a new face to the coaching program, it’s more of faces in different places. Brownlee who climbed the ladder from Assistant Coach to Head Coach — after Dan Whisler stepped down to spend more time with his family — definitely has some experience under his belt.
“I’ve been working with Coach Whisler for, I don’t know, 20 some years probably and I love the sport of cross country. It get’s a lot of students involved and it’s a great sport, so I enjoy being around it. He (Whisler) needed to move on so he could be with his family more. It was kind of a natural progression for me to step into that position,” Brownlee said.
Joining Brownlee is the seemingly new Assistant Coach Humphreys, but there’s more to him than what meets the eye.
“I’d always wanted to be a coach and I enjoy the sport, I like to see kids work hard and improve, and to be around the sport and enjoy it some more,” Humphreys said. “We didn’t have cross country when I was in high school. Our track coach tried to get cross country, but the Board of Education at the time didn’t want to do it.
So what did Humphreys do instead of cross country? He set record on the track that were only to be broken by his own son, Kaleb Humphreys.
“I ran distance, ran the mile and two mile, and went to state three years and placed fourth every year. My senior year I broke the school record in the 3200m race at the state meet, which is always an exciting time to do something like that, and I already had the mile record, which has been broken since then, Kaleb has them both,” Humphreys said.
Similar to the shift in cross country, in football Schneider become the new Head Coach while Laudermilk became Defensive Coordinator and they both invited their old high school Football Coach Richter to join them on staff after Bauerle left to coach football in Hesston.
“It was an interesting opportunity and I thought it would be a fun challenge,” Schneider said.
Some of his challenges look slightly different than others would as he remains the Head Coach of boys’ basketball and was recently introduced to his new daughter Stella Schneider.
“Being two Head Coaches, I think there are always the challenges of the time commitment to make sure that you’re dealing with the sport that you’re in and not for the up-coming sport,” Schneider said.
As for the baby Schneider already has a game plan sketched out.
“I think good planning and setting up boundaries of — practice I’m home at 6:00, that’s a non-negotiable thing, and weekends, you know, sometimes you have to put a little bit more on your assistant coaches, delegate stuff a little bit more and trust that they can handle that and they can.” Schneider said. “As you get older you start to realize that things can go on without you, even though sometimes you think they can’t, they can and they will.”
Helping Schneider is Richter, a man who’s no stranger to the game.
“As most people know it’s really an old position,” Richter said, “I did it for 16 years then took four off, did it for four more years and have been off for four, and when Schneider decided to take the head job I told him I would come and help him, not so much for football as much as just some experience and guidance for him.”
Speaking of guidance, C team volleyball has been experiencing some new guidance under Calderwood after Paula Crandall stepped down.
“I decided to take the position because I missed coaching and working with kids outside of class. I coached volleyball several years ago, so that was going to be an easy transition for me,” Calderwood said.
Even with an easy transition Calderwood has one slight issue.
“The only thing I have a problem with is getting to practice on time because practice starts 15 minutes after school’s out and if I have kids in my room, questions or trying to figure something out I don’t usually get to the gym before everybody’s in there.” Calderwood said.
Finally the last major change that’s happened in sports this fall is Whisler as the new athletic director, but even this is likely to change in the next few years.
“I see this as a transition year,” Whisler said, “I’d like to have two full time science teachers so I don’t see this as a long term position for me, but hopefully it’s giving the district a chance to evaluate where they want to go with this position.”