A slew of local high school coaches gathered at the KLKC offices to talk about their upcoming fall high school sports seasons Friday afternoon.

Parsons, Labette County, Cherryvale, Erie and Chetopa had coaches on hand to discuss their upcoming campaigns. 

Among the coaches present were Erie football coach Eddie Kearns, Chetopa football coach Rick Aldridge and Parsons volleyball coach Brooke Hopper, all in their first seasons in their roles.

Here’s what each coach had to say about their seasons: 

 

Sean Price, Labette County football head coach: 

 

On the top focus for the Grizzlies at this point in the summer...

“It’s about strength and conditions right now. We’re trying to push up some weight right now. I don’t enjoy 20 minutes of conditioning after practice. If we can get in shape now, that’s what I want. I’m not a fan of running gassers after practice.” 

 

His expectations for how Labette County will fare in the SEK League this season...

“The SEK I think is wide open. Everybody graduated a bunch, including us. We only have eight seniors, so this is the youngest team I’ve had by far. But we have a great group of seniors. It’ll depend on staying healthy with us. We don’t have a lot of depth.” 

 

Eddie Kearns, Erie football head coach:

 

On the football team reclaiming players in his first season taking over as head coach...

“Right now, the biggest thing is my excitement of taking the job over that has carried over to the kids. We lost kids last year to cross country that were skilled kids, and they’re back. We’re going to have to depend on those kids with their speed to get the job done.” 

 

The effects of leaving a Galesburg Middle School program he built up over the previous six years...

“It is tough to leave that role. I’ll still be teaching there part time. When I took that program over, they hadn’t won a game in several years. We turned that program around and had several winning seasons. Those are the same kids I’m coaching at the high school level now. We’ve got some kids that really want to be successful at this.” 

 

Brooke Hopper, Parsons volleyball head coach:

 

Making the transition from assistant coach to head coach...

“There’s a lot of administrative duties on the head coaching side I’m getting used to. When I was an assistant, it was my job to build relationships with the girls and setting the expectations. When it comes down to it now, the decision is mine. The media is new for me, too. So I’m just letting the girls know now that I can push them further. They’ll have to come in and work.” 

 

How she plans to help rebuild Parsons volleyball...

“I’m definitely in a unique position, but it’s a great position to be in. We’re rebuilding, so we get to set the foundation now. We want to be consistent with expectations. Once we’ve set those, we’ve got to make sure we follow through. Coaching is a lot like parenting. We’ve got to be consistent and that’s something we’ve lacked. Now is a great time to build that.” 

 

Deonta Wade, Parsons football defensive coordinator:

 

What last year’s success was like to experience in his first year in Parsons...

“Last year was fun. The kids had fun, the coaches had fun. Nobody outside of the staff expected much out of us. To do what we did was great. We expect to be just as good now if not better this year. We have a tough schedule and play in what I think is the toughest district in 3A. But our players have the experience of winning against what’s lined up against us. As long as we control what we can control, we’ll be fine.” 

 

Matt Fowler, Oswego football head coach:

 

What the primary area of focus is heading into Year 2 as head coach...

“One of our biggest focuses has been, without a doubt, the leadership aspect and the unity of the team. We have a big freshman class. About half our team is freshmen. We have to gel that together and discern our roles. When you have that many that come into the program, they haven’t played with the seniors before. So the team dynamic of putting together a family has come a long way. That’s been our point of emphasis.” 

 

Balancing last year’s newfound success with the desire to go further in the postseason...

“You have to celebrate the success you’ve had. There’s a balance between being proud of what you did and not being totally satisfied. I think that kind of speaks for itself. When you’ve had some wins and some losses, hopefully you learn from those losses. Hopefully they hurt bad enough that they push you to wanting to be better. We did some good things last year, but we really didn’t execute that well. Imagine the difference if we did execute. Our goal every day is to get better than the day before.” 

 

Rick Aldrdige, Chetopa football head coach:

 

On the progress he’s made with Chetopa over the summer...

“The biggest progress we’ve seen is having set practice times and people showing up. We’ve got the kids showing up 30 minutes before practice. There’s a little buy-in and the kids are anxious about this year. That’s a good start.” 

 

What the expectations are for Chetopa this fall...

“You never know until you get onto the field. There’s so many variables that take place — an injury here, turnover there, a penalty there. We’re anticipating a strong season. What does that mean? Two years ago they were goose-egged as far as wins go. Now we’re looking for about four or more wins. That would be an improvement. We’re looking to improve upon last year. We’ve got to get the juniors, sophomores and freshmen excited about what we’re doing. We want a taste of winning in the program.” 

 

Harry Hester, Cherryvale football head coach: 

 

On last year’s failure to make the playoffs and the desire to return in 2019...

“We were close last year. A handful of plays, we would’ve been 6-2 and in the playoffs. If you just look at the record, it doesn’t show how close we were. The ball didn’t bounce our way. But we played a lot of young kids. When you’re in the moment, you’re trying to win. This season, we return a lot of experience. They didn’t like the taste in their mouths of losing. They’ve got to be disappointed in that. Now it’s about the little things we need to do to get over that step. We were disappointed with 3-6 for sure, but we understand what we need to do.” 

 

Caleb Reid, Parsons cross country, softball head coach: 

 

Balancing coaching duties for two sports...

“I spend a lot of time in the offseason getting ready for the season that’s ahead. The two aren’t in the same season, so that helps. Going from the high school softball season into the summer season in softball, that’s an easy transition. I’ve got a great support staff and administration. Managing cross country isn’t difficult. The kids that show up want to work hard. It’s about managing schedules there. There’s a little bit of legwork there, but it’s something I’ve learned over time to deal with.”

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