D’oh! Simpson named new coach
It began when the University of Michigan fired head basketball coach Tommy Amaker.
Days later, the coaching carousel roared through West Virginia and Manhattan, Kan., and finally trickled all the way down to Basehor-Linwood High School.
OK, so there are no direct connections between Basehor-Linwood and the recent college coaching changes, but the similarity between the hires at Kansas State University and BLHS can't be ignored.
In an effort to maintain continuity and move forward with a face the Basehor-Linwood School District believes is committed to the community, BLHS named Noah Simpson its new varsity girls basketball coach on Tuesday.
"This is the dream job for me," Simpson said. "When I stayed here two years ago (after the departure of former BLHS coach Mardy Robinson), I did so because of loyalty to the school, the community and the program. That's what this is all about right now. It's a great opportunity for me and I'm looking forward to putting Basehor-Linwood girls basketball back on the map."
Simpson is to BLHS what Frank Martin is to K-State -- the best option for all parties. Martin, a long-time assistant to former KSU coach Bob Huggins, was promoted to head coach last week after Huggins bolted for West Virginia.
The Wildcats chose Martin in large part because of his ability to keep the program Huggins created in tact. BLHS administrators are hoping for the same from Simpson.
"Noah has been an integral part of the Lady Bobcat basketball program for the past several years," said BLHS athletic director Joe Keeler. "He brings continuity, passion and tremendous worth ethic to the program and we look forward to him creating a rewarding experience for the program and the girls."
Simpson, a 1999 graduate of BLHS, has spent the past four seasons as a varsity assistant with the Lady Bobcats. He replaces Tami Holthus, who resigned last month after two years with the school.
His name emerged as a top candidate to replace Holthus just a few hours after she stepped down. Although the district took its time in pulling the trigger, Keeler said promoting Simpson was a no-brainer.
"The bottom line is he's very qualified," Keeler said. "We wouldn't have hired him if he wasn't."
Because of his young age, the 26-year-old Simpson said he realized he would have to prove himself early and often during his time at BLHS. But he looks forward to the challenge and is eager to get started.
"Timing is everything," he said. "And for me this is great timing because we have some great talent. It's a little challenging, too, because expectations are going to be high. But I look forward to that. I'm someone who likes to take challenges head on."
Simpson inherits a team with nine returning players, including six seniors. Last year's Lady Bobcats finished above .500 for the first time in five seasons. Last year's squad also picked up the school's first postseason victory in that same time span.
The new coach's plans for the team include maintaining many of the methods and characteristics that Holthus installed. There will, however, be one noticeable difference.
"It's going to be a lot faster-paced game, both offensively and defensively," Simpson said. "I want to get it and go."
Not to worry, Bobcat fans. The "go" Simpson spoke of had nothing to do with leaving town. Simpson becomes the team's third head coach in the past four seasons, but district officials are convinced that he will be with the program for a long time.
"He's definitely committed to this district," Keeler said.
In addition to his duties as a basketball assistant, Simpson has coached three years of baseball and three years of football at BLHS.
During his college days at Emporia State, Simpson spent one year as an assistant boys coach at Chase County High School and another year as a boys assistant at Admire Middle School.
Simpson is married and has a five-month-old daughter, Shae. His wife, Emily, who taught special education at Pleasant Ridge High School last year, recently accepted a similar position at BLHS.
"Growing up here and being from here, people know my face and they know how much this community means to me," Simpson said. "I think that's going to help me a lot. I can't wait to get started."