Fall coaches from Louisburg High School were out in full force this week, sharing their successes, their challenges and their outlook on the future. Principal Dave Tappan introduced soccer coach Ben York, volleyball coach Jessica Complement, football coach Kyle Littrell and cross country coach John Reece.
Ben York has been coaching LHS soccer since 2003 when the program began. This year they have fought back from a 2-5 record to .500 and are ready to continue improving. He has 36 players, with 18 on JV and 18 on Varsity. Assistant Coach Tony Juarez has been with him for 7 years. They have facilitated summer camps and have played well on the Lewis & Young fields until it deteriorated to the point  of needing a new facility. The FIFA sized field that was built next to Wildcat Stadium is suitable for high school, college and professional teams - Sporting KC could play on it. "It's humbling," York said, "and we are so grateful to live in this town. This field will be the best grass facility in the Frontier League."
As a men's coach, Ben is also involved in club soccer with U8-U12 players that he hopes will feed into the LHS program. The Lady Cats soccer program will start in the spring of 2016 and will initially be funded by the community. He has two ladies on his team now. Many more are interested and waiting for the women's only arena.
Jessica Complement is also widely known as Jessica Smith - she married during the summer and is excited about her 8th season coaching volleyball. There are three matches left in League play. She graduated only two seniors in 2014, so the team is driven to return to State. This year Jessica has shown them a tougher schedule with 5A and 6A competition. They've learned a lot and their 23-11 record is an indicator that they are up to the challenge. Of the 11 losses, nine were to Top 5 teams. The level of play has changed, as many girls start playing volleyball as 4th graders. 
Jessica has two seniors, six juniors and she brought up a freshman and a sophomore on her Varsity team and they are all excited about the upcoming Sub-State on October 25th where they will meet Paola, Spring Hill and Fort Scott - each a team they have defeated this season. This is Rich Brown's seventh year coaching freshmen and Mary Quinn's second year with JV. 
Although the Kansas State High School Activities Association has recognized bowling as a sport, they have not yet included a men's volleyball team.
Kyle Littrell is in his second year as head coach of Wildcat football. They started off strong, defeating Ottawa and Eudora, but haven't garnered a win since meeting Piper, Paola and Baldwin. Littrell is undeterred, as he believes his players are, "they are fantastically resilient," Littrell said. "They have a great attitude and an outstanding work ethic." His message to them remains the same: during the course of 120 plays, only 5-8 of them determine the outcome - no one knows how or when those plays will come, so everyone has to be ready to take advantage of it when it happens. "They are learning hard lessons, and that's just part of growing. They have to believe and they have to trust."
With the exception of the freshman team, the Wildcat football program has been largely injury free this season - until last week when junior Alex Dunn tore his PCL. He will be out 4-8 weeks and while he is not easily replaceable, Littrell focuses on the positive - for Alex and for the team. 
When asked the Million Dollar Question: go for the win or kick the extra point? Littrell didn't hesitate, "Go for the win," he said with a smile. "I have confidence in my kids."
John Reece has been coaching the cross country team for seven years. The program started 17 years ago, and this is Reece's 8th year back in the district after some time in Gardner. He took over for Tom Kuder and couldn't be happier with the progress. This year there are 41 runners - the biggest group yet. While there are no wins and no losses, the sport is incredibly competitive, "It's an individual team sport," Reece and his assistant, Coach A, will tell you. There are seven Varsity runners and the top five finishers score points. The rest make up the total, and the lowest score wins. 
It's also a blended sport with girls running 4K and boys running 5K - the boys have won some team meets and the #1 runner for the girls is a sophomore. There are even three freshmen who are running Varsity. "The kids are really starting to understand - our team is running very well and individually we keep improving," Reece said. They will run their League meet at Rim Rock in Lawrence, the mecca of cross country courses - an NCAA Division I Nationals course.
The team has bonded more this year than others not just due to the number of runners. Runner Chris Tyson was diagnosed with leukemia at the beginning of the year. Reece said that while it's been tough for the team, there has been a tremendous amount of camaraderie and Chris has been at a meet to support the team. 
In Other News:
  • The Lundblads sent a Happy Do$$ar from Colorado - they were able to watch Louisburg High School alum Garrett Griffin score a TD for the Air Force from the stands. Sandy was present and echoed what a spectacular experience it was.