Ready for his chance: Longtime assistant Jimmy Page takes reins of Truman girls basketball team

By Bill Althaus
Longtime assistant coach Jimmy Page will be taking over as the new Truman girls basketball head coach after Steve Cassity stepped down to spend more time with his family. Page served as an assistant under Cassity and under late former boys basketball coach Billy Guinnee.

While Jimmy Page is certainly familiar with the Truman High School girls basketball team, the longtime boys and girls assistant finds himself in a new position this year.

Five weeks ago, longtime head coach Steve Cassity stepped down from his coaching responsibilities to spend more time with his family, and his assistant moved one spot over on the bench to take his place.

“You’re right when you say things change when you move over one spot on the bench,” Page said as he worked on a revised COVID-related basketball practice schedule.

“Physicals, scheduling – all that stuff that Steve took care of – well, I’m doing it now. And I love everything that goes with being a head coach here.”

Page was the late Billy Guinnee’s assistant for the boys basketball team for 13 years, before joining Cassity’s staff five years ago.

“You know how much I enjoyed working with Billy and the guys, and I really enjoyed working with Steve the past five years,” Page said. “I found out about Steve deciding to step away from coaching and it was such an honor when I was asked if I wanted to be the new head coach.

“Of course! This is my school. It seems like I’ve been here forever and this is my first opportunity to be a head coach on the varsity level.”

He paused for a moment, and added, “And believe me, in this pandemic, there are some challenges you usually don’t associate with coaching high school teams.”

Things like making sure his players are socially distanced and masked up at practice, everything is sanitized and that players remain in small groups to cut down on the risk of catching the virus.

“It’s different, but man, I love it,” Page said. “With Deon (Monroe, a former Examiner Player of the Year) gone we have a very young team, but we’re a young team with a lot of talent and experience.

“There were times last year we had Deon on the floor with four freshmen and we had a really successful season (16-11 and a second-place district finish to a Blue Springs team that made the state final four before it was canceled). Those freshmen are now sophomores and they have a whole year of varsity experience to learn from.”

They include Urya’ Williams and Taliyah Scott, both all-district and all-conference picks who will be joined by her younger sister, freshman Layla Scott.

Sophomore Cece Mora will provide height at the post position and senior Kennedy Rucker will have a calming influence at one guard position.

“I can’t wait,” Page said. “It’s 2020 and there are a lot of crazy things happening, but I’m doing what I love at the school I love.”