What separates McPherson High’s Shane Backhus from the average athletic director in Kansas is his ability to think outside of the box.
In recent years, McPherson High’s Spring Sports Preview consisted of the teams and coaches being announced in front of a small Roundhouse audience, then everyone would adjourn to various rooms for organizational meetings.
Last year, Backhus decided to spice up the hum-drum event. He initiated a “Spring Sports Parents to Practice Night,” where parents of MHS student-athletes attended practice and participated in fun events along with their kids. Meetings followed, which allowed the parents to get to know the coaches and what their expectations were for the coming season.
It proved to be so successful that Backhus is continuing it this year, with Monday the chosen date for 2014.
“Last year was our first year of doing it,” Backhus said. “In the fall and the winter, there are scrimmages that accompany the sports previews. The previous spring previews were pretty boring stuff. Since none of the seven sports take place at MHS, it was hard to showcase any of the athletes’ talents with a scrimmage.”
The stroke of genius was making the parents part of the process.
“We wanted to live things up and get parents involved,” Backhus said. “This format allows parents to attend a practice. It also allows us to plan fun, interactive activities to go along with the parents meetings.”
The seven sports are:
• Baseball — New coach Steve Williams’ team will be at Grant Complex from 4 to 6 p.m., after which time there will be meetings and a cookout.
• Golf — Kurt Kinnamon’s team will be on display at 5:30 p.m. at Turkey Creek. Parents can bring their clubs and compete in contests against their kids. A golf rules test, developed by KSHSAA, will be given for those wanting to see how much they know about the game.
• Girls soccer — Be at the MHS soccer practice field at the school at 5:30. Parents will have the opportunity to take some PKs. Coach Chris Adrian will answer any and all questions about the upcoming season.
• Softball — First-year coach Danica Fitzmorris has a lot planned beginning at 5:30 p.m., as parents can test their softball skills in a variety of ways. Pizza and pop will be served at Eisenhower Elementary School afterward.
• Girls swimming — Longtime coach Bonnie Sue Fisher will put her team through the paces from 4 to 5:30 at the YMCA. Then everyone will adjourn to her house at 516 S. Walnut for ice cream and other goodies.
• Boys tennis — First-year coach Tyler Brown will start festivities at 5:30 p.m. at the MHS Tennis Complex. Parents can get out and hit balls with their kids, and hot dogs and hamburgers will be served.
• Track and field — Coach Jace Pavlovich will have a “mock meet,” and parents will be helping with the running of the meet by being timers and measuring marks in field events. Be at McPherson College at 3:45 p.m.
Those with questions about Monday’s events can call Backhus during business hours Monday at 241-9510.