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.

New boys basketball coach hopes to lead by example

Smart challenges players to set goals for season

New boys basketball boys head coach Christopher Smart is hoping to help achieve individual and team goals at WHS. Wabaunsee is Smart’s first high school head coach job, but he brings several years of experience at Mission Valley and Marysville. Smart hopes to see improvements from the previous season.

Where have you coached before?

I started down at Mission Valley in 2002 as an 8th grade coach then the next year I was up in high school as the assistant coach. I went through 2006 there. Then I was in Marysville as assistant coach from 2006 to 2009, and I haven’t coached since.

What are some of your goals for the year?

One of my big team goals for the season is to keep the opponents under 45 points, top three in the mid-east league, and get to the sub-state championship game to give a chance to get to state, which I think this team has. We have a lot of hype, we have a lot of the keys I think to get there. I’ve told them this {The team} that as coaches we can show them to door, they have to walk through it.

Do you have any individual goals for the year?

No technicals, I will never be belligerent to refs, my face might be red and I might be cussing underneath my breath, but I will get T’d up if that means getting the boys fired up. Other individual goals are to just be a leader for the guys, show respect to the opponents, the fans, the refs, and the other coaches and just lead by example.

What prompted you to want to coach at Wabaunsee?

I didn’t know if I would ever get back into coaching, and I came to a few games last year, and it really kind of got the fire going back inside me again, seeing the potential out on the floor, and seeing what these guys could potentially be. I then started talking to some school board members about it, even just talking about the games themselves, then it kind of just came up that this high school coaching job kind of came open and those things we were talking about I think kind of got my foot in the door a little bit for this position, but it definitely peaked my interest coming to games last year.

What are some challenges that you never realized as head coach?

All the work I have to do. As a head coach you are constantly scheduling summer stuff, and constantly thinking about the future with summer, but its constant bombardment of stuff you have to do besides the basketball. Now that being said I don’t mind that stuff it keeps extremely busy and I really don’t mind it at all.

What do you think the community’s expectations are of you?

I think that the community’s expectations are pretty low but I feel really confident with this group. I think that we have everything we need, and I think once we start winning games the community will be a lot more interested in boys basketball. Another thing I am doing is having all the boys volunteer to get them out in the community, for the most part the community supports this program and I want them out supporting the community the way they are doing us.

What are some of the team’s advantages and disadvantages?

Disadvantages I think are the previous seasons kind of just lingers over you. They are used to losing, not used to having success. Once they start winning they are going to deal with that. Are they going to get a big head? Do you need to keep them level? I thinks that’s the big thing. That mentality gets into their heads and it just needs to be changed.

Advantages, I am impressed with the effort. I didn’t know what to expect, coming in. I didn’t know if they were going to bust their butts for me or like in grade school I have to give them a pep talk every 10 minutes. I had no idea. I think that their effort has been very good so far. Mentally we are getting there. It has been a lot of new stuff thrown at them so I think they will get there.

Were there any challenges getting hired later in the year? 

As soon as I got hired I was working to just get the boys to summer camp which was in just four or five days. Also trying to get the boys into tournaments during the summer. As soon as I got hired I probably called about seven or eight different coaches trying to get into tournaments.

Outside of coaching what do you like to do?

Hunt and fish, I am definitely an outdoors man.

How are you trying to build relationships with the boys?

I think that is some of the biggest challenges in coaching is also some of the most rewarding is connecting with them, I think that once you connect with them i think they respond. It’s constant talking to them besides the basketball stuff. I really have to dive a little deeper with them.

— Laurel Barber, @Lawl_e_20

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