Editorial: Basketball coach’s departure raises concerns

Chris Smart will not be returning as head boys basketball coach next year.

While no one on the newspaper staff played basketball under Smart, we have several concerns about his departure.

Of course, no one working for the district will comment on the circumstances surrounding Smart’s departure. That’s standard for personnel issues. While Smart did speak to the Charger about the progress the team made this season, he declined to speak about the exact reasons he won’t be returning.

We won’t speculate on why Smart won’t return, but coaching seems to be too temporary a position at Wabaunsee. Smart is the fourth head coach to depart in the last two years, following the removal of Maggie Strait (volleyball), Skylar Suther (boys basketball) and Brian Henry (football).

This pattern presents several problems for players and for the community.

A lack of longevity makes building a relationship between coaches and players difficult. On the best teams, players know their coaches and value their advice. The best coaches know their player’s strengths and weaknesses — knowledge that takes time to develop. Some players in the WHS basketball program will have to play for three different head coaches, assuming the next coach gets more than a year to prove their worth. Constantly starting over creates a disadvantage for the team, not only in the present, but for years ahead.

We also worry that the frequent changes will harm Wabaunsee’s reputation. Will uncertainty make it more difficult to fill coaching and teaching positions in the future? A school that doesn’t retain coaches is less enticing for a person who wants to put in the work to build a successful program.

Smart’s departure has not inspired the same level of anger in the student community that followed last year’s firing of Skylar Suther. But that shouldn’t necessarily reflect poorly on Smart. Suther had five years as a teacher and coach to build a reputation and connections. Smart only received one season.

We wish the best to the basketball team and its future coach, and we hope to see the program build in the future. We also hope the next coach has an opportunity to succeed.

The editorial is the opinion of the Charger staff. Send letters to the editor to whscharger@gmail.com.

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