SIDELINE SLANTS

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JOE KLEINSASSER
Thanksgiving is past, but there are plenty of reasons for fans to be thankful, because Hillsboro is blessed with a plethora of good coaches at the high school and college level.

But it doesn’t matter how successful a coach is, there are always more questions.

Mike Gardner, Don Brubacher, Rusty Allen, Amy Ratzlaff, Darrel Knoll and Dennis Boldt are just a few of the local coaches who have experienced tremendous success, but about whom questions remain.

I’m not talking about coaching decisions on game day. It’s easy to second-guess a game-day decision because we don’t have anything at stake.

And while it’s easy to second-guess even successful coaches, that’s not what ultimately makes a coach successful. A successful coach consistently has a team playing closest to its potential, and hence, winning more often than not.

Tim McCarty’s tenure as Tabor football coach resulted in one of the great turnarounds in small college football. The question is whether he can turn the trick and be successful at the next level.

Mike Gardner was the beneficiary of Coach McCarty’s work at Tabor, but Gardner has shown he can take a good team and make them even better. Not everyone can do that.

Now that he’s set the standard so high, I don’t know what he’ll do for an encore, but it’s not fair to expect a KCAC championship every year.

There are a couple of questions facing Gardner. Can he continue to field competitive teams at a school that has below-average facilities in football, or will he leave for bigger and better opportunities?

Don Brubacher has shown for more than 20 years that he can teach and coach basketball. His teams are consistently among the best in the KCAC, and he has been competitive with bigger programs outside the conference.

He’s still young enough to coach another decade or more, but how long will he have the physical health and desire to recruit and coach while also serving as Tabor athletic director?

After coaching high school boys’ basketball for years, it didn’t take Rusty Allen long to make an impact at the college women’s level. His team not only won the KCAC last season, but they played well in the national tournament.

Few coaches make the transition from high school to college as well as Allen. Will Allen be content to run a strong women’s program at Tabor, or would he like a shot at coaching a men’s basketball team?

Amy Ratzlaff consistently turns out conference volleyball champions at Tabor. She doesn’t rebuild. She reloads. The only question remaining is whether she can carry that success into the postseason-no easy task.

Dennis Boldt’s record as HHS track coach is remarkable. You can argue that he has been blessed with talented athletes, but you can’t deny that he is able to motivate those athletes to perform well against the best competition in the state.

Will he be content to stay at Hillsboro, or will he want to move up to a bigger school or even college some day?

Likewise for HHS basketball coach Darrel Knoll, who has won state championships and usually has one of the best teams in Class 3A. Will he want to move up to a bigger high school some day or try his hand at college coaching?

Coach Mark Bliss coached Conway Springs to four state titles in football, losing only four games in seven years. In his first year at Derby, he was winless. Can he turn that situation around?

K-State coach Bill Snyder had loads of success for more than a decade before having a little less success the last two years. We won’t know if he could have worked his magic one more time because he decided it was time to retire and spend more time with his family.

The bottom line for coaches is that-barring retirement or death -there’s no rest for the successful.

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