Tonganoxie lands homegrown coach in Phillips
A former Chieftain and current Tonganoxie resident is set to become the new boys basketball coach at Tonganoxie High.
The hiring of Shawn Phillips, a 1994 THS graduate who still calls Tonganoxie home, was approved Monday night at the school board meeting.
Phillips, who will also teach at THS in a science position, currently teaches physical science to freshmen at Turner High in Kansas City, Kan., where he completed his third year as boys varsity assistant coach and head junior varsity coach. Before that he held the same position at Royal Valley in Hoyt for six seasons.
However, Phillips' coaching career began at Tonganoxie in 1996 when he coached the Chieftains' freshman team for three seasons. He said returning to THS as head coach was a natural move because he still lives in town, and he doesn't plan on leaving any time soon.
"It's kind of funny that everything's kind of come full circle," he said. "This is a job that I want to do. This isn't a situation where I want to be here for a couple years and then jump to another community."
The coach has one son at Tonganoxie Elementary and another in preschool who will soon join him, and Phillips said he is excited to be coaching in the same school system. What's more, Phillips' parents still live in Tonganoxie and won't have to travel anymore to watch their son coach.
The coach said he is eager to get his hands dirty and build a basketball program of which the city and school can be proud.
"Anytime that you get started in a new situation there's always the excitement of getting involved and putting your stamp on the program," he said.
The new coach said he would do that by making sure his players work hard.
"Something I'm real big on is the effort of our kids," he said, adding that he always wants his players to take pride in their defense.
Offensively, Phillips said his philosophy would depend upon the ability of his personnel. Because he is just getting started he has not yet had time to evaluate the Chieftains' talent, but he is looking forward to getting the process started.
"Summer will be very important for us," Phillips said, noting that the weight room, camps, leagues and individual workouts will all be a part of the offseason regimen for returning Chieftains.
THS athletics director Brandon Parker said there are tentative plans to host a kickoff night when players and parents will have a chance to come in and meet the new coach.
Parker said Phillips was "the right fit" for THS and was chosen from more than 20 candidates, 17 of which came in for face-to-face interviews.
"Shawn's an outstanding person," Parker said. "He's an excellent teacher. He comes with high references from others. He's a man of high character and integrity who will put a lot of hard work into the boys basketball program."
Phillips graduated from Kansas University in 1998 with a degree in secondary education.
The Mirror's news editor, Shawn Linenberger, contributed to this report.