Archive for Thursday, November 30, 2006

After seven seasons, LHS assistant Deere hangs up whistle

November 30, 2006

Lansing High's 12 seniors weren't the only ones whose football careers at LHS ended Friday, Nov. 3, against Kansas City-Turner.

The game also was the final one for longtime assistant coach Kyle Deere. The longest tenured assistant on head coach Bill Pekarek's staff, Deere chose to end his seven-year stint with the Lions to spend more time with his family.

Deere's son, Blake, attends the University of Kansas. His oldest daughter, Riann, plans to play college volleyball after graduating from LHS in the spring. His youngest daughter, Taylar, is a sophomore on the volleyball team and Lionettes.

"I was just finding my time being too thin," he said. "But I told Bill, 'I'm not dying. I'll be around, and I'll be their biggest fan.'"

Deere, a deputy warden at Lansing Correctional Facility, joined the Lansing coaching staff for the 2000 season under then-coach Rick Hodam.

"I was fortunate enough that coach Hodam gave me an opportunity," Deere said. "And the next year Bill took over as head coach and he let me hang out with him for six more years. It's been great."

During Deere's first four years with the program, Lansing went 3-6, 5-4, 4-5 and 5-4. Then came the big breakthrough seasons of 2004 and 2005. The Lions posted a combined 17-5 record during that span, won back-to-back district championships and advanced to the Class 4A state playoffs both years. They made the move to Class 5A this season and posted a 4-6 record, but the Lions still found their way to the state playoffs for a third straight year.

Winning was fun, Deere admitted, but he said his most treasured memories of coaching were the relationships he had with the players and coaches. Specifically, he mentioned coaching his son for three years as one of the highlights.

Deere said he will miss the daily interaction with the other coaches.

"These guys are some of my best friends now," he said. "We've shared a lot. We've had a lot of laughs, cried a little and complained a little. It's been a good run. It's been fun."

Although he'll no longer be seen on the sidelines, Deere won't leave Lansing football completely. He said he still plans to have a major hand in the planning of the annual Sean Ryan Memorial Football Classic, a flag football tournament the Lions started last summer in memory of Ryan, a 2003 LHS graduate who died in a car accident.

"I plan on seeing that through and organizing that," he said. "That's something I'm going to stay with, and I told Coach P that's something I want to be greatly involved in. I know his time is thin during the summer, and I can handle it now that I've got more time."

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