Board hires assistant
Tonganoxie High has a new softball coach, although she's no stranger to the program.
On Monday, the Tonganoxie school board approved, by a 6-0 vote, to hire assistant coach Diane Titterington as its new softball coach.
Titterington replaces co-coaches Debbie Himpel and Craig Lohman, who split head-coaching duties the past two seasons. Titterington's hire comes after months of uncertainty in the coaching ranks after last spring's state appearance, the program's first in school history.
Controversy brewed after the state tournament when Himpel and Lohman were named the Lawrence Journal-World's area coaches of the year. Himpel was pictured and quoted, while Lohman, who resigned after the season, was not.
The story opened up dialogue on the Journal-World's Web site about the two coaches, as some players were critical of Himpel. Some people also praised Himpel through the online posts, but the issue came to a head last summer when players, coaches and parents met individually in executive session with board members and administration for several hours. Outside the board office, some players were quoted as supporting both Himpel and Lohman.
The board took no action at that time.
Early last month, the school advertised for a softball coach. And Monday, they found their coach.
Titterington, who played softball in college at Spring Arbor University, is ready for the opportunity to lead the Chieftains.
"I'm excited about it as far as the general picture," Titterington said. "Obviously we're working on unusual circumstances from last year. That's all put aside, as far as I'm concerned.
"There's potential for this team. It will be good and I'm looking forward to it. I'm really looking forward to working with the girls, so I'm excited about it."
Tonganoxie finished last season with a 20-4 record. The Chieftains fell in the quarterfinals of the state tournament to Augusta, the eventual state champion.
But Tonganoxie graduated no seniors from last year's squad, so the future looks good for Titterington in her first year as head coach.
Titterington and her family moved to Tonganoxie in July 2003. She's been a junior varsity softball coach
the last two seasons. And, this is her second year of teaching music and physical education at Tonganoxie Elementary School.
"The reward is the hugs," Titterington said about working with the youngsters. "I love the hugs from those guys. It makes it all worthwhile."
Titterington attended high school in Michigan and then graduated from Spring Arbor in 1984. She also played basketball one year at the university, but played softball all four years. She took a break from coaching as her family grew. She and her husband had four children in five years, so she stepped away from coaching when they were younger. But she had other coaching experience before joining the THS staff at the start of the 2005 season.
"Obviously I've been with sports throughout that time with rec programs and competitive programs and stuff like that," Titterington said.
Her husband is in the military, so her family has lived throughout the United States and even Germany, where she also taught and coached. The family has moved 11 times since Titterington and her husband married.
"That actually helps because you can see the competitive levels at different places," she said.
She said contacts with college and other high school coaches also should help "get some newness and drills and techniques that I can tap into."
Titterginton said it will be an adjustment becoming a head coach, but she's ready to put her spin on the new job.
"There's more work as head coach, that's the territory, but it's not a huge jump for me," Titterington said.
As for assistant coaches, they've not been hired yet. Titterington said it's her understanding she'll work with athletics director Brandon Parker and a school administrator on selecting assistants.
"It's usually a team thing, but I'll have a big input on that," she said.
Titterington said she wasn't sure who might be on her staff.
"I don't really want to comment because I'm really not sure," she said.
Parker could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.