High school graduation is upon us. Parents and grandparents celebrate the accomplishments of their children as they move forward into a whole new world.

Now is also a time for area coaches and administrators to begin to face new challenges as they look forward to a whole new group of students and athletes for the upcoming year.

Three key local administrators who played an integral role in positively influencing the lives of students will be retiring this year: Dr. Paul Kinder, superintendent for the Blue Springs School District; Darwin Rold, district activities director for the Lee’s Summit School District; and Dan Ogle, William Chrisman Activities Director all close a chapter as they move into a new phase of their lives.

Even though on occasion I have not been in agreement with each of them and often received an eye roll as I approached, I am in awe of their effort and commitment as they dedicated their lives to improving the lives of an endless number of young students. It is not an easy task. I extend kudos and a huge thank you to all three.

Dr. Kinder made major strides to improve high school sports in Eastern Jackson County. He has served on the Missouri State High Schools Activities Association for over a decade. He was able to bring state championships competition to the Kansas City area for the first time in volleyball as well as both boys and girls soccer. He was a leader in helping to develop the three-man crews for officials in basketball and five-man crews in football. It has drastically improved play for the student athletes in these sports.

He helped to establish several new playoff systems in many sports. He helped to make a more balanced process in scheduling sports for the Suburban Conference in the Kansas City area. I could go on and on with his accomplishments on the MSHSAA Board. I had the opportunity to work for Dr. Kinder – he had the strength to hire great people and allow them to do their jobs. He also provided the leadership to upgrade all the facilities in the Blue Springs District. The athletic facilities are among the best in any school district across the country.

Darwin Rold began his Lee’s Summit School District career when it had only one high school and played a key role in building two more state-of-the-art high school facilities. In addition to his normal responsibilities he also assigned officials for the entire Suburban Conference – no small task. Whenever an “official” situation would occur in competition, he was the go-to guy for an answer for administrators and officials alike.

He also hosted numerous district, sectional and state events for MSHSAA. If you were playing a Lee’s Summit school in any event you could bet you would see Darwin sometime during the game. He also served as president of the Missouri Interscholastic Activities Association and worked with MSHSAA to improve high school sports in the state of Missouri.

Dan Ogle has been a loyal Bear for many moons. Dan has been key in maintaining pride at William Chrisman High School. He was also very instrumental in improving all the facilities at Chrisman. He was a great resource as an activities director as he had touched all the bases in his career as coach, official and finally athletic administrator.

Dan and his staff did an outstanding job running many state athletic events, particularly at the Independence Events Center. The events ran smoothly and very professionally. I can never remember a time when I needed to speak with Dan that he did not get back to me immediately, which is critical in the business of high school sports. He handled both winning and losing extremely well by keeping it all in perspective.

Just so that I stay true to my need to poke a little fun, I would like to add that if you see these three posed for a photo shoot embraced in a group hug and singing “Kumbaya” you should probably look immediately to the heavens to see if Gabriel is blowing his horn.

But on my serious side, these three are the ultimate professionals who spent their entire careers making an effort to keep the best interest of kids in their hearts. The facilities for high school athletes in Eastern Jackson County are second to none and easily compare to the facilities at Division II colleges. I have had a lot of good times and a lot of disagreements with these three – they did LEAD, and young people in Eastern Jackson County are better for their leadership. My advice to them all for their approaching retirements is that within a week it will become an art form - congrats!

• The Chiefs schedule is totally brutal. If they can be close to 2-3 after that stretch they may have a shot for a wild card. If not the season will be over early.

• OK, at the risk of sounding like the national media on the topic of Manziel, Sterling and Sam … the Royals 3, 4, 5, and 6 hitters have only nine home runs between them (at the time I am writing this article). Come on man!

• LeBron James may be the best overall athlete I have ever seen. I once said the same thing about Jim Brown – WOW.

• My quote of the week is from the Yankees great Joe DiMaggio: “Motivation is something nobody else can give you. Others can help motivate you, but basically it must come from you, and it must be a constant desire to do your very best at all times and under any circumstances. A person always doing his or her best becomes a natural leader, just by example. The youth of our nation is what will keep us strong and young athletes are the natural leaders of the future.”

Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 5-6 p.m. every Thursday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at t.crone@comcast.net