What head coach Kevin O'Neal has accomplished in his 12 years atop the North Callaway varsity baseball program includes 150 wins and the 2017-18 Eastern Missouri Conference championship, but its not what behind him that made it time to step down.
Its what lies ahead that made O'Neal decide to resign his post, and not only does that mean rededicating himself to the responsibilities he already has, but there may also be some new challenges in his not so distant future.
"I made the choice to step away to spend time with my family and focus on other duties withing the North Callaway School District. My sons are becoming more involved with sports, and I would like to be there to support them as much as possible," said O'Neal. "I am coaching one of my sons baseball teams this summer. Stepping down also allows me to put more focus on my duties as chair of the math department at North Callaway as well as head football coach."
Last season on the gridiron the Thunderbird's reached several important milestones. This included defeating South Callaway both during the regular season and in the playoffs and winning the EMO championship with a league record of 7-0. Overall the squad had a record of 11-2 and wasn't eliminated from the postseason until Nov. 11 when it fell at Clark County 33-7.
"I am sure I will miss coaching baseball at North Callaway but I still plan on being involved with the team," O'Neal said. "I will still teach and coach football at North Callaway and I will always offer support for the new baseball coach and players. I don't plan on straying too far from the game. My first coaching experience was in baseball and I love the game for the many life lessons it teaches young men."
In total O'Neal has 22 years of baseball coaching experience. This includes eight years as an assistant at North Callaway under Michael Emmons and coach Metcalf, two years as an assistant coach at Westminster College and a dozne years as the head coach of the Thunderbird's. In that time North Callaway only had three losing seasons and 154 victories, in 2012 he was selected to coach the Class 3 All-Star game and along the way he's even had several players earn college and professional honors.
"I feel my seasons as head coach at North Callaway have been successful. The wins in my career are a direct reflection of the great kids I have had the opportunity to coach," O'Neal said. "My resignation was official May 22. I know the North Callaway School district and Athletic Director will find the best replacement possible. Coach Zeth Lavy has been my assistant for the past six seasons and has done an excellent job."
Despite the fact the hardball season seems to have become a family affair for the O'Neals, the 2018 North Callaway football campaign kicks off on Aug. 24 at home against the Missouri Military Academy, which is coached by T-Birds grad Mitchell Jenkins. One thing this duo have in common is they both learned a lot and believe strongly in the positive coaching strategies and tenants taught to them by longtime Thunderbird coach/administratror Michael Emmons.
"I would like to thank the North Callaway School Board and Administration for all of the support over the my years as head baseball coach," said O'Neal. "Also, a big thanks to all of the families and players that I had the privilege coach over the years."