Flurry of coaching moves coming at De Soto
The lights were still bright as De Soto's baseball team filed past, heading into the stands to greet friends and parents.
The Bishop Ward team, still celebrating its return to the state tournament, yelled and its fans cheered on the other side of the field.
Near the De Soto dugout, Steve Deghand started to duck the question. Talking candidly about his team's final game of the season -- a disappointing 10-3 loss to Ward in the regional championship -- Deghand turned away when asked if he'd miss coaching.
"Oh gosh, yeah," he said, turning back. "Yeah. There's nothing to say."
Deghand was selected to replace De Soto activities director Roy Hawley and is headed to bigger and arguably better things, but he said coaching his last baseball game was hard.
But he's not the only Wildcat coach setting out in a new direction as the 2005-2006 school seasons draw to a close.
A number of new faces will lead the Cats next season, and none will be more prominent that Deghand.
Promotion or not, change isn't always easy.
"I have mixed feelings. I'm happy to take on the responsibility that they've chosen me to take, and I'm ready for that challenge," he said. "At the same time, I've been a coach forever. At one time, it was all three sports, then you drop basketball, then you're football and baseball, then you're just baseball. Now its done, for awhile anyway."
Deghand, who has guided the boys baseball team for the last four years, will assume his new role of the summer.
He will be replaced by Joel Thaemert, formerly the head coach at Russell High School.
Volleyball coach Lori Brooks also chose not to return to coach the team. Hawley said complications from a car accident restricted Brooks from being able to be as active a coach as she'd like to be, and she decided she wasn't the best choice for the team.
The volleyball team finished with a 22-16 record in 2005, six wins better than its 16-18 2004 campaign.
"We'd have loved to have had her back," Hawley said. "She really turned that program around."
Replacing Brooks will be former De Soto High standout Junelle Woolery. Woolery played softball at Pittsburg State University and currently teaches physical education at Prairie Ridge Elementary in Shawnee.
De Soto softball coach Kelly Dennis also resigned at the end of the season. She will take over as the head girls basketball coach at Shawnee Mission North.
Assistant coach Sissy Fletcher will take over as head coach.
The rest of the Wildcats sports will return with the same head coaches, but a number of assistants will also swap positions.
Coaches Dustin Jamison and George Walden are both leaving, ensuring an entirely new baseball staff will take over in 2007. Jamison, who also coaches on the football team, will take over the Kansas City Turner baseball program and Walden will join him as an assistant.
"We're losing quality people that are going to be over at Turner," Deghand said. "A lot of the things you see that the kids do out here and that they do correctly can be attributed to those assistant coaches."
Football assistant Allen Terrell will also head to Turner, taking over the school's football program.
Tom Byers and Todd Heffong will assume roles with the football team under Scott.
Heffong will also help with the track team, replacing Matt Jones on the staff, and coach boys freshman basketball.
DeAnn Thaemert will coach the girls freshman team.
Several other positions should also be filled by the fall. Cross country coach Chris McAfee's program has grown large enough to warrant an extra assistant. Hawley said as many as 40 athletes may join the sport in the fall.
Other assistants will also be added in volleyball, wrestling and baseball.
And, of course, there's one other change that will drastically alter the De Soto High sporting scene.
Hawley's resignation will and end his run as a coach and administrator at the school, and just like Deghand stepping away from the diamond, pushing away from the position won be easy, he said.
"I'm getting so used to going to games, it gets to where I don't want to miss any games," Hawley said. "I don't like it when I have the baseball team playing the same time as the soccer team or the track squad. I feel like I should be there, if not from a supervisory role, just for support."
He'll have one more chance to offer his support as an official De Soto staff member. Members of the track team will compete at the state meet in Wichita Friday and Saturday, and while Hawley said stopping to cheer isn't exactly practice -- he's busy with administrative duties Friday and has a trip planned for Saturday -- he said he'll try to squeeze in Saturday morning for one last event.
"It's a lot of fun. It's the most enjoyable job I've ever had," he said.