Coach chalks up his ‘W’s’
Chris Elliott discovered a few quirks about teaching and coaching in his hometown.
Not long after he became a Lansing School District employee, Elliott, whose father played professional baseball in Leavenworth, began to see the children of longtime friends trickle into his classes - and onto the volleyball and basketball teams he coaches. Having friendships with the parents sometimes meant formulating the roster was a little more unpleasant, particularly when making cuts.
"The hardest thing would probably be coaching kids whose parents you went to school with," Elliott said. "But you have to be fair and do what you think is best for the team."
Not that putting together a team always involved such dilemmas. Elliott has many memories of the great teams he has coached through the years.
"The most satisfying is when you see the individual give up their personal wants and needs for the betterment of the team," he said.
It's a commitment to teamwork that Elliott takes with him to the court during the Rick Elliott Memorial Basketball Tournament, an annual event in memory of his brother. Teams made up of former Lions basketball players compete in the tournament, a fundraiser for an annual scholarship presented to a Lansing High School senior basketball player. Though Elliott's team doesn't always win anymore, camaraderie has outpaced competitiveness.
It's a dynamic that defines many great teams, Elliott said, and has been present in some of his favorite teams from the Lansing schools. He still remembers the thrill of coaching the 1989 LHS boys team. Even though they didn't make it to the state tournament like the following year's team, they had an electrifying spark that really lit up the game.
"You'd have to say the will to win is more important - not just winning," Elliott said. "It's not all about winning and losing : not that I like to lose."
Name: Chris Elliott
Address: 2912 Spring Garden St., Leavenworth
Occupation: Teacher, coach
Graduate of: Lansing High School, Emporia State University
Family: Joy, wife; Courtney Rogers, 26, daughter; Scott, 22, son
How long have you lived in Lansing and what brought you here? Lansing native. Mother was a Leavenworth native and father came to play baseball professionally in Leavenworth.
What do you like most about Lansing? "I guess it's the small-town atmosphere. It's good to know a lot of people."
What do you do for fun? "I guess my hobby would be golf."
What would surprise people about you? "I don't know - What you see is what you get."
What's the best advice you've ever received? "Probably 'Treat others the way you want to be treated' : I always like John Wooden's advice, 'The best thing you can do for your children is not do it.'"