Madras and Culver High School athletics will have a lot of new faces running programs next season with six new Madras head varsity coaches and three new Culver coaches coming into the start of the 2018/19 sports year.
The volleyball, cross country, boys basketball, track, baseball and wrestling programs will all have new captains sailing the sea of Madras athletics.
MHS Athletic Director Evan Brown, as well as Madras High principals, are in charge of finding and hiring the best coach for the job.
"Once we get an opening, we — as in Mark (Neffendorf), H.D. (Weddel), Brian (Crook), and myself, with our connection in the athletic world around the state, all of which have been head coaches — between the four of us we start getting the word out right away," said Brown. "We just start passing the word, asking if they know anybody, those type of conversations. We try to recruit some people to apply for these positions and through that, we have gotten some pretty good people."
"The process of hiring these coaches goes through myself and our building administrators," he said. "We just try and get the best person for the position and find somebody who fits our needs as a school. Sometimes, our needs are different and it's different sport to sport.
"We really, really like our coaches to be (employed) in the building," said Brown. "A big piece in connecting with kids is when they are in the building. So much of coaching is connecting with kids and when you have those connections in the building, it just really helps with the coaching part of things as well."
At MHS, for the next school year, the volleyball, cross country, wrestling, and baseball head coaching jobs are already filled. The boys basketball and track program sstill need to find their new head coaches.
Central Oregon currently has a large number of basketball coaching positions open.
Natalie Villanueva will be taking over for Brianna Hewson as the new Madras volleyball coach, while Brian Martz is taking over the cross country program for Andrew Jensen.
The Madras volleyball team finished the 2018 season with a 7-11 record, a big improvement from recent years.
Brad Padgett is replacing Cameron Mitchem as the varsity wrestling coach and Jerry Shaw is the new baseball coach.
White Buffalo wrestling had six athletes compete at state last season, with five of the six returning next year. The baseball team made it to the state quarterfinals game during the 2018 season under Sam McCormick, but with no seniors on the squad, had a 7-16 record in the 2019 year.
"A big part of getting nonlocal coaches comfortable in Madras is getting them involved in your school and your community," said Brown. "Once you start getting them involved in the community, they start getting ingrained in your community. Then they have a better chance of making those connections with the kids. I can't think of one of these new coaches that hasn't had connections with our community prior, when it comes to these six new coaches we are in the process with."
"We rely on our head coaches to put their staff together," Brown said. "We provide guidance and things like that and we want to make sure the coaches are as comfortable as possible with the assistance they have on staff."
Culver's coaching spots
The Bulldogs have a new girls and boys basketball coach next season. Erin Brunten is replacing the 10-year Culver girls coach Scott Fritz, and John Spinelli is taking over the boys basketball coach for Johnny Wilson.
Last year, the girls basketball team started the season 10-1, but finished with a 14-9 overall record, just shy of making the postseason. The boys team was under the helm of Wilson, who led the team to their first league win since 2014, but the Bulldogs finished the year 3-21 overall.
Athletic Director Shea Little is taking over for Jesus Retano, becoming the head football coach. The Bulldogs football team want 3-6 last season under Retano.
"The process that goes along with hiring new coaches is advertise, applicants apply online, administration applicant screening, reference checks and interviews," Little said. "We focus on the best fit and it is a professional process."
At the start of the 2018-19 sports seasons at Culver, the Bulldogs also had a new volleyball, baseball and softball coach.
Gabrielle Alley took over as the volleyball coach and led the team to a 24-7 record. The baseball program was run by Joey Graves, leading the team to a 2A state playoff win. The softball team was co-coached by Shelly Brown and Megan Woychack this year.
"We are excited about our hires last season," Little said. "Both volleyball and baseball made the state playoffs, and our softball team had three more wins than the previous year."
At the start of next year's sports season, Madras and Culver will have a combined nine new head coaches.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.