GRAND ISLAND, Neb (KSNB) Grand Island Senior High had six head coaching positions to fill this year and Cindy Wells, GISH activities director, said the community should be excited about the lineup of leaders.
“These seven coaches are going to be great leaders for our student athletes,” Wells said. “We have a tradition of excellence across the board with Islander athletics. These coaches know what the expectations are for the experience we provide students and their parents.”
The six sports with new coaches are cross country, girls golf, boys golf, girls tennis, baseball and unified track, which will have two co-head coaches.
Two of the coaches are currently head basketball coaches for the Islanders.
Scott Hirchert is the new cross country head coach. Hirchert, also the head varsity girls basketball coach, has coached distance for the boys and girls track and field teams for the last ten years.
“Coach Hirchert has the knowledge and expertise of continuing to build the program Coach Jessica McDowell has established over her years as the head coach,” Wells said. “He has a great passion for running and developing young runners across Grand Island Public Schools.”
Hirchert said he looks forward to building on the growth of the program.
“We have a lot of kids with a lot of talent,” Hirchert said. “It’s exciting to think what we can do as a team if we put in the work, taking advantage of our numbers and pushing each other to be better every day.”
Jeremiah Slough is the new girls golf head coach. Slough, also the head varsity boys basketball coach, will take over for Kelli Jeffries, who is retiring from coaching and teaching.
“Jeremiah is known as one of the best golfers in the Grand Island area,” Wells said. “He’s also a great coach. I have no doubt he will continue the strong tradition of the Grand Island girls golf team.”
Always a teacher, Slough is looking forward to sharing the love of another sport with students.
“As my basketball playing days are over, I’ve found a passion in the game of golf,” Slough said. “I’m excited to share the knowledge I’ve gained to our girls golf team. Taking over a program that has had a wealth of success is exciting and I’m ready to get started.”
James Kuebler is the new boys golf head coach. Kuebler, also the voice of Friday nights at Memorial Stadium during football season, has been an assistant boys golf coach for three years under Jim Jeffries, who is stepping away from coaching.
“Coach Kuebler has proven he can develop young golfers and help them be successful at the varsity level,” Wells said. “We know he brings excitement to everything he does.”
Kuebler is eager to take on the challenge of a Class A high school program.
“I’m humbled and excited about the opportunity to coach and teach the lifelong sport I love,” Kuebler said. “I’m looking forward to leading this team to the next level of success.”
Josh Budler is the new girls tennis head coach. He takes over for Megan Richardson who is moving to teach elementary PE in Omaha.
“Josh is no stranger to the game of tennis or our players,” Wells said. “He is currently the tennis pro at the GI Racquet Center and gives lessons to boys and girls tennis players on a daily basis. We’re looking forward to seeing the program succeed with his guidance.”
Budler said he knows there is work ahead for the Islanders.
“I’m excited to get to know the kids,” Budler said. “I’m going to work as hard as I can to help these girls reach their potential.”
Kirby Wells is the new baseball head coach. Kirby has been an assistant coach for the Islanders team for seven years, including the last two with his dad, Joe, as head coach. Kirby was a member of the 2008 Class A State Championship Islander baseball team.
“We’re pumped up for the unique perspective of Islander baseball Kirby brings to this coaching position,” said GISH executive principal Jeff Gilbertson. “He knows what it takes, both to be a successful player on the team and to be a coach, and understands the expectations and the demands of being an Islander.”
Kirby Wells has had his eye on this job for a long time.
“After we won state my senior year, all through college and as I started my teaching career, this job has been my goal,” he said. “I am excited to continue the success of the Islander baseball tradition.”
Molly Elge and Andrea Hill are the new co-head coaches for unified track. Both work at Senior High; Elge is a behavior support specialist and Hill is a student interventionist.
“We are so proud of our school and district for choosing to lead the way with unified sports,” Cindy Wells said. “These two coaches will help even more students be included in the high school athletic experience.”
Elge said it is exciting for her and Hill to be coaching unified sports.
“The athletes and mentors do an amazing job competing and cheering each other on,” Elge said. “To see the excitement on the athletes’ faces after just competing in an event is priceless.”