Bonar says relationships motivated return to bench
De Soto High School teacher, former Bonner Springs coach named new Wildcat basketball top man
After wading through dozens of applications, De Soto athletic director Roy Hawley and Principal Dave Morford decided the best candidate to replace Jason Generally as De Soto's boys basketball coach was right under their noses.
De Soto High School teacher Jim Bonar, a former Bonner Springs boys basketball coach, is the Wildcats new boys basketball coach.
"I think we just felt like he was a good fit," Hawley said. "He already worked for the district, knew the kids and had successful experience as a head coach."
Bonar's varsity coaching experience started and ended with the Braves.
His final two teams at Bonner Springs combined to outscore opponents 2,570-2,493 and averaged more than 60 points a game. The ability to put points on the board is something that has evaded the Wildcat basketball program the last few seasons.
In 1997, Bonar coached the Braves to a berth in the 4A state basketball tournament. Bonner Springs knocked off defending state champion Gardner-Edgerton and second-ranked Basehor-Linwood to get there. Once there, the Braves fell to Chanute in the first round.
After compiling a 59-70 record and three winning seasons in six years at Bonner Springs, Bonar found himself at a crossroads in his career.
He wasn't sure if he was teaching to teach or teaching to coach, so he resigned his post following the 2000-2001 season and looked for a position in which he could focus his attention on the academic side of his profession. Bonar began teaching in De Soto's business and technology program during the 2001-2002 school year.
"I wanted to make sure I was in education to be in education," Bonar said of his decision to leave coaching. "I didn't want to be in education to coach."
Bonar said his four-year exile from coaching was difficult. A surprise visit from three of his former players convinced him to resurrect his coaching career.
"I used to think I coached because I loved basketball," Bonar said. "But now I know that I coach because of the relationships I form with the players. I love teaching, but I miss the team."
De Soto's new coach said his teaching style was designed to emphasize the strengths of the players while developing them to play his style.
Bonar said he was not a shy coach on the basketball court. He said he would install a very aggressive brand of basketball at De Soto. He described himself as a ball pusher.
"I want to put the kids in a position where they can be successful," Bonar said. "I want them to be able to push the ball and cause stress on both offense and defense."
Bonar started his playing career at Gardner High School where he became a two-year letterman and starter in 1985 and 1986. He was proud to say his teams never lost to De Soto during that time span. Now he hopes to change that.
Following his high school graduation, Bonar went on to play basketball at McPherson College. Although he never earned a start for the Bulldogs, he shared equal time with starter and best friend Doug Clark at the small forward position, Bonar said.
During his final three years at McPherson, Bonar and his teammates played themselves into the District 10 finals.