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Examiner
  • Softball coach leaving Grain Valley

  • Jim Oliver, who built the Grain Valley softball program into one of the best in Eastern Jackson County and the state, has left the Eagles to take over as activities director and assistant principal at longtime Grain Valley rival Pleasant Hill.

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  • Jim Oliver, who built the Grain Valley softball program into one of the best in Eastern Jackson County and the state, has left the Eagles to take over as activities director and assistant principal at longtime Grain Valley rival Pleasant Hill.
    “I was talking to some coaches at Pleasant Hill,” Oliver said, “and I told them all I have is blue and white gear. They pretty much told me not to wear it at Pleasant Hill.”
    He was chuckling when he made the comment, but it's a good bet he's been on the hunt for some new purple gear to go along with the Roosters' color theme.
    “I hope people from Grain Valley don't look at me as going to the rival school,” said Oliver, who was an assistant baseball coach for 13 years and the head softball coach the past seven. “I've had my administrator's degree since 2005 and Mike (Tarrants) is doing such a great job (as activities director) at Grain Valley that he's going to be there a long, long time.
    “I was talking with my mentor – my dad – and he told me not to make move until I was ready, until I knew I wanted to become an administrator and not be involved with coaching a team.
    “This opportunity came up in March. I heard about an opening, tossed in my application and got the job offer. I am so excited, I can't even tell you. I won't just be involved with baseball and softball at Pleasant Hill, I'll be involved with all the sports plus band, drama, debate, speech – you name it.”
    Oliver's Eagles finished as the Class 3 state runner-up last season and graduated nine seniors off the best team in the history of the school.
    That's a statistic that has not been lost on new head coach Calvin Valvo.
    “I'm excited about the challenge we face this year,” said Valvo, who moved to Eastern Jackson County after spending 28 years coaching a variety of sports in Las Vegas, Nev. “We lost nine seniors off last year's team, but that's high school sports. We have some great young talent and some good players coming back from last year's team.”
    Oliver was part of two final fours as an assistant to Mark Lyford in baseball and led the softball squad to five consecutive conference crowns, culminating with last year's second-place state finish.
    “We struggled a little bit our first two years, then we really became a solid team,” Oliver said. “Everyone is asking me about highlights from Grain Valley, and my real highlight comes after spending four years with a player and when they graduate you get that hug and a thank you.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Those are the things I'll never forget.”
    Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC
     
     
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