Two apply for coaching job
Board to choose athletic director or assistant coach
The hunt for a new head baseball coach to fill the position left vacant when 11-year coach Chris Herron resigned two weeks ago has turned from a search to a choice.
The Tonganoxie school board has to choose between two men who both want and are qualified for the position
Andy Gilner, Herron's 11-year assistant, and John Lee, Tonganoxie athletic director, have both turned in applications to the school board for the job.
Lee, who usually plays an active role in choosing coaches, said that he hasn't been back to the high school since school ended.
"Since I put in my application, I prefer to stay away from the whole process," he said.
Lee, who played college baseball at Baker University, said he felt that his experience and love for the game would make him a good fit with the team.
"I've submitted my application," Lee said. "If the board thinks I could do a good job, I would love the position."
But so would Gilner.
In his 11 years as Tonganoxie's assistant, Gilner has helped the team win five league titles and make it to five regional final games one of which it won. He also helped lead the team to third in state in 1992.
"I just feel that Chris and I have build a solid program," Gilner said. "I would like to continue to build on the success we've gained."
Gilner played college baseball at Allen County Community College and has coached a little league baseball team every summer for the past 15 years. He said he had also helped with Tonganoxie's American Legion teams off and on for the past 10 years.
Herron said he thought Gilner was the man for the position.
"I think that stability creates a better ball team," he said. "Andy's done a lot for the program, and I think he should have the job."
But no matter who gets the job, Herron left some big shoes to fill. After all, he's the only head coach the team has ever had.
In 1993, a year after the Kaw Valley Baseball League began, Herron and his teams dominated the league, winning the championship.
Tonganoxie then won league every year until 1998.
Herron said he loved the game and hated to leave his team.
"I'm going to miss it bad," he said.
But Herron, who has obligations that eat at his time, said the reason he resigned was not because of obligations to other teams he coaches.
Rather, he said, he was resigning to spend more time with his family.
"I missed five of my son's basketball games this year," Herron said.
And with a son as old as his high school coaching career, the time finally came for him to choose one.
"I just realized that my son only gets to be 11 once," he said. "I wanted to spend time with him. I wanted to watch him play."
Herron, who still retains his positions as middle school teacher, college volleyball coach, summer volleyball coach and summer little league baseball coach, said he still was considering getting back into the program at a later date.
"I know I'm going to miss it," Herron said. "And I haven't ruled out trying to back involved when I feel I have the time to spare again."