Lauren Schutter | Sports Editor
Assistant coaches Cara Miller and Mitchell Wertzberger are essential keys to their respective team’s successes through coaching, but recently they were keys to success as players too.
Cara Miller is in her fourth season at Wabaunsee as an assistant coach. She graduated with the class of 2015, and is now 24 years old. The first three years of the four years she has coached were under head coach Tracy Capoun, and three of her four years in high school she was coached by Capoun. “I loved being coached by Tracy,” Miller said, “she kept us in check and believed in us when we didn’t fully believe in ourselves.”
Miller truly played some great ball in high school, and not only volleyball. She averaged nearly a double-double in basketball and had a .279 batting average, .972 fielding percentage, and .409 slugging percentage in softball her junior year. Most notable of her stats, though, was volleyball. Her senior year she hit 486 kills at a .353 hitting percentage. This led to 1294 career kills through 4 years. After high school, Cara played volleyball at Cloud County Community College.
Today, outside of coaching, Miller teaches 4th grade at Maple Hill Elementary School. “I love the kiddos, this school and community so much,” Miller said. “I went to school 1st through 4th grade at MHES.”
Cara is super experienced in the community and is gaining experience every day in coaching. “I’ve learned more about the sport, but I’ve really earned a huge appreciation for all coaches. It’s a very under appreciated job, and I wish all people saw everything that goes into coaching a high school sport,” Miller said.
Football assistant Mitchell Wertzberger, on the other hand, is a new kid on the block. He graduated in the class of 2017, and is now an assistant coach four years later at the age of 22. Rutledge coached Mitchell three of his four years of high school, and played a huge part in his development. On the topic of coming back to Wabaunsee, Wertzberger said, “I think what brought me back the most was just my love for the game of football. I enjoy being around the game so much. Also, watching how Rutledge has been really trying to turn this program around the last few years drew me in as well.”
Wertzberger directs his coaching towards the offensive line and linebackers, assisting head coach Jess Rutledge. Rutledge appreciates the help from Wertzberger, and recalled how it felt to coach him in high school. “It made my job really easy because he was always a very hard working player and an exceptional talent,” Rutledge said. He really was an exceptional player, playing in the Shrine Bowl, and also averaging 13 tackles a game and reaching 118 total tackles his senior year as a linebacker.
Though the football program had some solid years with Mithchell on the field, Wertzberger said he sees new growth in the program now. “I think the one thing I have noticed as the biggest change in the football program is the atmosphere and players holding each other more accountable. I think the coaches have made a huge impact on that, as well as the schedule we are able to play now. Winning football games isn’t easy, and being able to play teams that are more our size has made these kids hold themselves to a higher standard. We have no excuse to not go out, compete, and win games.”
Outside of coaching, Wertzberger takes care of the cattle on his parents’ ranch. He also helps with the business side at times, but his main job is focused around managing the ranch.