I heard, listened and read. Now, it’s my say on the absurd goings-on with the coaching staff at William Chrisman High School.
Five capable and respected head coaches have left since the fall of 2012. First it was volleyball coach Vanessa Jones, followed by John Vickers in boys basketball, Nathan Mooney in boys tennis, John Crutcher in football and Lindsay Thompson in girls basketball.
Jones fortunately was hired at her alma mater, Fort Osage. Mooney high-tailed it to Blue Springs South, while Vickers, Crutcher and Thompson remain as teachers at Chrisman.
And don’t forget athletic director Dan Ogle announced weeks ago that he was retiring at the end of the school year. Whether all of the incidents at Chrisman hastened his decision, I don’t know.
William Chrisman is not a rich school district. Few athletes get the chance to participate in highly skilled and expensive camps. But the sports facilities are exceptional and the Chrisman kids compete and play hard regardless of the sports, even in the minor sports such as golf, tennis and swimming, in which victories are few. I wonder how many students never get the chance in sports because of other commitments, such as jobs to help the family’s needs.
If you think William Chrisman is going to be like Blue Springs, Lee’s Summit West or Liberty in terms of athletic success, than you have a screw loose.
I have reflected several times during my 54-year career at The Examiner, the highlights and the low points. One thing always heads the list. I have been fortunate to be associated with numerous outstanding athletes, coaches, administrators, officials and umpires. They have made my job rewarding.
Vickers would be on my all-time list of the most outstanding. He recently was named the Independence School District Teacher of the Year. He deserves the honor, and I hope it wasn’t a consolation prize for the questionable firing after 14 years as the boys basketball coach. His wife, Stephanie, who was courtwarming queen and a starter in basketball at Truman, received a similar honor several years ago. The Vickers have four beautiful children. It’s an All-American family.
Vickers, as might be expected, was crushed when told he would not return for his 15th season at Chrisman. He had some great teams at Chrisman and one year was named The Examiner’s Coach of the Year. The Teacher of the Year honor was a fitting tribute.
An incident several years ago points out my assessment of Vickers. It was a cold winter day and I received a call at home from Vickers. He wanted to bring me something. It turned out to be an 8x10-inch autographed photo of University of Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self. Vickers knew I lived and died KU basketball. While he was at KU for a camp, he took the time to obtain the photo that still hangs on my computer in the office.
Thompson’s firing blows my mind. She was 107-75 in seven years, including a 7-17 first-season rebuilding year. She coached teams to three conference titles, a district title and an Examiner Coach of the Year honor. But it wasn’t good enough. Will her replacement do as well?
Why would any one want to coach at Chrisman, knowing how they have been treated in the past?
Dick Puhr is a retired sportswriter who still works part-time for The Examiner. Reach him at 816-350-6315.