What in the world is going on with the departure of some of our area high school coaches, particularly in the girls basketball ranks?
St. James Head Coach Brad Conway and New Haven Head Coach Dave Luecke both are no longer with their respective teams.
Those two news bits got quite a few basketball junkies in the area wondering what happened.
The St. James Board of Education voted not to renew Conway’s coaching contract.
Luecke stepped down at New Haven as coach and teacher.
Word is Conway and Luecke both had complaints about their coaching style.
We’re talking about two very good girls basketball programs.
New Haven played for the Class 2 state championship game this year, losing to Harrisburg 43-32 in the title game at Mizzou Arena.
The Lady Shamrocks had a spectacular postseason run.
St. James has been a girls basketball power for years under the direction of Conway.
The Lady Tigers reached its Class 3 district championship game, losing to a very good Hermann team in a close game on the road.
It’s unfortunate not everyone agreed with the coaching style of Conway and Luecke.
Most coaches, whether it’s high school, college or professional, have at least some people who don’t always agree with everything they do.
You have to admit, it’s hard to argue with the results of Conway and Luecke.
New Haven Athletic Director and legendary boys basketball coach Ray Steinhoff, whose daughter Rachel played for Luecke this season, gave an emotional speech supporting Luecke during a recent banquet.
If Steinhoff and all of the other coaches at New Haven support Luecke, that’s good enough for me.
I really enjoyed interviewing and getting to know Luecke over the years.
Luecke was not forced out, but just decided enough was enough. He coached at New Haven for 21 years. It’s a shame it had to end the way it did.
The Conway situation is interesting because the school board voted not to renew his coaching contract after 14 years as the Lady Tigers’ head coach.
Conway led the Lady Tigers to 20 or more wins nine times, won six district championships and reached three Final Fours.
In a story in The Rolla Daily News written by Dave Roberts, it was suggested that some of the players and parents didn’t like the way Conway yelled at his players sometimes.
Here’s a part of what Conway told The Rolla Daily News:
“Too much yelling is what I heard. It’s nothing I haven’t done for 22 years; correcting kids and trying to get kids to do things the way we want to do them on both ends of the court. Apparently parents and kids didn’t like it and it snowballed from there.”
Like Luecke, Conway is a great person who I’ve gotten to know pretty well. He always seemed to care about his team and girls basketball as a whole.
I understand if players and parents were uncomfortable with the yelling. Some players can handle that and some players have a hard time dealing with it.
Many of us who played sports while growing up had coaches holler and yell at times.
It’s just unfortunate Conway’s run had to end at St. James because of this particular situation.
We lost two good coaches in the area. I wish Luecke and Conway the best. Who knows, maybe they’ll resurface somewhere else one day.
Over the past few seasons, girls basketball in the Four Rivers Conference and the area in general has been tremendous.
Games are better for fans to attend and reporters to cover because the teams are good.
Hopefully that trend will continue, even with the loss of coaches like Conway and Luecke.