Is the world ready for the Randy Draper Trio?
He’s made his mark in Grain Valley as the popular and successful coach of the Eagles girls tennis and basketball teams, and now it may be time to conquer a new field.
"Oh my goodness, I don’t think so," said Draper, who took up piano lessons last fall. "I’m working hard on my piano lessons, but we’ll have to wait a while for that to happen. I took some lessons when I was in elementary school – you know, because my mom wanted me to.
"Now, I’m taking them because I want to, but with these stubby fingers I don't know how successful I’ll be."
Draper has been talking with one of his freshman basketball players, Ella Quiarte, and assistant coach Troy Spradley, the music director at the high school, about a future jam session.
"I don’t know, we’ve talked about playing in front of a captive – and very small – audience, like our girls basketball team," Draper said with a laugh. "Ella can really sing, she has a great voice, and I don’t want to scar her for life with my piano skills.
"And Troy is super talented. Right now, I don’t think he can play down to my level. But I’m going to keep working and we’ll see what happens."
While his dog Archie never leaves the maestro’s side, Draper takes on a more serious approach to the biggest reason he has little to do – the coronavirus.
"We’ve never seen anything like this," Draper said. "Here I am at home, and I should be out with a tennis racket. The only time I get on the court now is when I take Archie over to the old courts and let him run around."
Draper’s basketball team reached the state quarterfinals for the second time in the past four years, but lost the Class 4 quarterfinal to a talented Lincoln Prep squad to draw the curtain on another successful season.
"I feel so bad for Spig and his kids," Draper said, referring to Blue Springs girls basketball coach Mark Spigarelli and his Class 5 Wildcats, who won the quarterfinal game to punch their ticket to a final four that was canceled by the Missouri State High School Activities Association.
"To make it that far, and beat the teams they beat at the end (a Lee’s Summit West team they lost to twice in the regular season and a previously undefeated Liberty squad), it would have been so sweet for them to go down to Springfield for that final four.
"But they’re young, like we are, and I think we have a lot of good things to think about in the future. And we have to be safe with our kids. I understand the decision, I just feel bad for the teams who are missing out on something special like a final four."
One final question, before the coach heads off for a piano lesson: Does Elton John have anything to worry about?"
Draper lets out a deep, throaty laugh.
"Nothing – absolutely nothing," he said. "Besides, I’m more of a Billy Joel man myself."