This summer has witnessed the rise and fall of numerous aree coaches, and even though none have been fired, the ones who retired will be truly missed by their school district and whoever replaces them is most definitely going to have big shoes to fill.
One example is former North Callaway varsity baseball head coach Kevin O'Neal, whose been a tremendous fixture for that program and has helped keep it steady during times of turmoil big and small, but now needs to relinquish one of his two posts in order to handle some family business. While the spring sports season is quite some time off and certainly isn't what most people would call an immediate problem, Athletic Director Michael Emmons has always been one to get in front of things.
For his part, the person O'Neal was hoping to turn the T-Birds hardball program over to was fellow North Callaway teacher and current assistant coach Zeth Lavy, but that wasn't his choice to make.
Instead the process was opened up to one and all, and even though it's the districts policy not to share the details of any hiring process, two things are for sure.
One, O'Neal learned much of what he knows about coaching from Emmons and, two, Lavy went into his interview with a glowing endorsement from the last man at the top of North Callaway's baseball program, and now he's the next man to stand in that very same spot.
"I have been a varsity baseball assistant for five years. After playing for Coach O’Neal his first three years as Head Coach at North Callaway, we kept in touch," said Lavy. "When I was done playing at Westminster he needed a second assistant, so I started coaching and substitute teaching in the district. As far as baseball background goes, after high school I played at Lewis and Clark Community College and transferred after two years to Westminster College."
During his time as a Blue Jay, Lavy played catcher and third base and even earned All-Saint Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference honors in 2012 as an infielder. When Lavy was in college he also spent his summers coaching several different high school-aged teams. Among those units were BC 16U from Columbia and a few different North Callaway summer squads.
"I applied for the job the last week of May, interviewed Mid-June and was hired on June 21st," Lavy said. "Being a Paraprofessional means I am an Aid in the Special Education department. My daily tasks vary a lot, and in a day can include 1-on-1 instruction teaching basic counting and reading, helping students in different classes, take notes and read and helping with physical therapy."
Last season the Thunderbird's went 14-12 overall, 8-1 Eastern Missouri Conference, according to www.maxpreps.com. Highlights included ending the regular season with wins over Bowling Green 9-8 at home on May 7 and at New Bloomfield 17-5 on May 8 to end the regular season prior to taking a 17-5 defeat at the hands of Montgomery County on May 16 in the first round of Class 3, District 7.
"I am heading into my third year as a varsity basketball assistant. I don’t have an extensive playing background. I was the seventh grade coach for one season before I started with the varsity," said Lavy. "I have learned a ton from Coach (Mathias) Miller, who has done a great job getting his assistants up to speed with his system since he took over the boys program. I am extremely excited for the opportunity to lead the Thunderbirds and hope to sustain and build on a strong baseball program."
The third coaching position Lavy has taken on at North Callaway is also along side Miller and that's with the junior high football team, where Miller is the head coach and Lavy is about to enter his fifth year as an assitant with that team.