Two major sports-related items were approved by the Washington School Board during its meeting Monday night.
The news that affects the entire athletic department is that Rauch Field will get a complete makeover with the installation of a turf field, a track, lights, bleachers on the visiting sideline and a sidewalk and fence around the perimeter of the field.
Additionally, the school board approved the hiring of Grant Young as new varsity boys basketball coach and Adam Meyer as the junior varsity boys basketball coach.
Young comes to Washington from Union, where he coached the girls basketball program for one season.
The Lady ’Cats had a 16-9 overall record and a 4-3 mark in the Four Rivers Conference during the 2012-13 season.
A 1996 Union High School graduate, Young has a 253-138 record as a head coach, which includes girls coaching stints at Union, Wheatland, Neosho and Purdy. He also coached the Wheatland boys.
“I appreciate the opportunity Chris Arand and the staff gave me at Union,” Young said. “I’m excited and pumped to be going to Washington and to get back into coaching boys basketball. They have a great basketball tradition at Washington and I’m looking forward to being a part of that.”
Prior to coaching at Union, Young was at Purdy High School, which he led to a 73-17 record and a Class 2 state title in 2011. He was named Missouri Basketball Coaches Association and Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters Class 2 girls coach of the year that season. He also served as Purdy’s athletic director.
Young started his coaching career at Wheatland High School, where he was athletic director and coached both the boys and girls basketball teams.
In 2002, he led both teams to district titles. The boys team ended up making it to Columbia, finishing fourth in Class 1. He went 52-30 with the girls team and 76-64 on the boys side. The boys also earned two conference and two district titles to go along with a MSHSAA sportsmanship award.
After he was at Wheatland, Young went to Neosho, where he led that girls program to a 38-17 record and its first-ever district title.
Washington had approximately 30 to 35 applicants and interviewed six candidates.
“Grant won a state championship at Purdy and coached both the boys and girls teams at the same time at Wheatland. He’s a hard worker who’s not afraid to put in the time,” said WHS Activities Director Bill Deckelman. “I’m confident he’ll continue to make our boys basketball program a success. He wants to coach kids, not just basketball. He’s a young guy who will relate well to our kids.”
Meyer, a Borgia graduate who played on the 1998 state championship basketball team, comes to Washington from Montgomery County High School, where he was the head boys basketball coach.
Meyer and current Lady Jays Basketball Head Coach Adam Fischer were teammates on the 1998 Borgia squad.
“Adam has head coaching experience and is from the area,” Deckelman said. “I think we have a dynamic duo with Adam and Grant coaching the JV and varsity teams.”
Turf, Track Reaction
As expected, the WHS coaching staff is thrilled with the turf and track addition.
Work is expected to begin Monday, April 29. The hope is to have it completed by Sept. 6.
“It’s awesome. I feel a sense of pride that we’re able to do great things for our kids,” Deckelman said. “A new track definitely was needed. The grass field might look green from a distance, but it wasn’t a quality surface for our kids. This will benefit the entire student body with seven periods of PE classes as well as band class and practices.”
The girls soccer team hopes to play their final home games at the city park. The track and field team will hold practices both at WHS and at Borgia.
Friday night football games, along with junior varsity and freshman action, will have a different look.
“I would like to thank the Washington School Board, the administration and the WHSAA for having the vision to start this process and see the importance of having a great track/field complex. This will put us on par or above the facilities of our conference and areas schools, which is very important,” said WHS Football Coach Zach Schneider. “I would also like to point out that in the end, this facility is about expanding and improving our students’ experience at Washington High School. It will give all student-athletes at WHS a great feeling to compete on a state-of-the-art facility, while giving them something they can be very proud of.
“Not only will the facility benefit our school, but it will also benefit our community. Having been around the building and remodeling of new facilities in the past, the lure of this facility may play a key role in bringing new families into our community. In the end, I know there could be a very vocal group of people who will denounce this project. But ultimately, it’s what is best for the students in the School District of Washington.”
Track and field meets will return to WHS next year.
“We are very excited about the school district’s decision to install new turf and a new track. This gives not only athletes and coaches new opportunities, but our music programs, and most importantly our physical education classes will benefit from this decision as well,” said Washington Track Coach Mike Olszowka. “Any time you install a new state-of-the-art facility of any kind, you attract a lot of new people wanting to be a part of it. We will now be able to host home track meets. I think just the appearance of the facility will draw more kids to track and field, helping us to continue to build on an already strong program.
“On behalf of the track coaches and track teams, I would like to thank Dr. (Lori) VanLeer and her administration team, as well as the Washington School Board for giving us the tools we need to continue to build better student athletes and all-around better kids.”
The WHS soccer program also benefits.
“Having a turf field next year is going to be tremendous for our soccer program. It gives us a great surface not only to play our games on, but to practice on as well,” said WHS Soccer Coach Chris Lanemann. “It will solve the problems we had with practicing in bad weather, like we had at the beginning of the season this year.”