As he waits for the world to get back to normal, Justin Schmidt now has something else to occupy his time.
Schmidt learned Friday that he will be the new boys soccer head coach at William Chrisman High School. Schmidt will replace longtime coach John Straub, who will remain the Bears’ girls soccer coach.
And since boys soccer doesn’t start up again until late summer, Schmidt has plenty of time to prepare for next season while riding out the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It gives me something to be excited about," said Schmidt, who teaches physical education at Ott Elementary School in Independence. "I’m definitely already in the planning stages on what I want the season to look like and different formations, stuff like that."
Planning ahead will be no problem for Schmidt because he already knows plenty about the team. He spent eight years as an assistant coach under Straub after graduating from William Jewell in 2012, where he played goalkeeper for the Cardinals. The knowledge, he said, should make for a smooth transition.
"I wouldn’t say there are many differences," Schmidt said. "Straub and I have several similarities. We want and expect our student-athletes to reach a high standard on and off the field. That’s always been really big for both of us."
Straub is stepping down after 15 seasons as the Bears’ head coach. He took over the Bears’ boys team in 2005, shortly after coaching at Fort Osage from 1998-2003.
After working with Schmidt the past eight years, Straub believes he’s leaving the program in good hands.
"Justin is going to make a great head coach," Straub said. "Chrisman had several really good candidates for that position and I’m very thrilled that Justin was able to get the job."
Schmidt knows his first season could be challenging, especially if the need for social distancing to quash the coronavirus extends into summer. He has to replace 11 seniors from last year’s 9-14 team, which lost to Van Horn in the Class 3 District 15 final.
"We lost about half of our starters," Schmidt said. "We definitely have a young team. But we have several key returners who will hopefully step up to our young players."
Of course, Schmidt has some time right now to put his team together.
"I’m excited and my coaching staff is excited to get started and get to work," Schmidt said.