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SHEPHERDSVILLE - The decision by Bryan Bates to step down last week as the head coach of the Bullitt Central Lady Cougars was a surprise, especially with the timing as most coaches announce such things in the spring.
While this news may have come as a surprise locally to players and parents, Bullitt Central administrators have been doing a much better job in recent years of putting qualified people in the assistant coaching positions who can step in take over the program when needed. Credit for that goes to athletic director Mark Rogers and principal Christy Coulter.
Remember, this is a school that four years ago publicly said that assistant football coach Mike Gossett was the ‘coach-in-waiting’ whenever head coach Danny Leasor decides to retire - something that hasn’t happened yet. That news came when both were originally hired.
In recent years, the majority of the new head coaches were already part of the program for which they took over. The lone exceptions being Gossett and Thomas Martin taking over the track teams last season, but both had already been part of other sports teams at Bullitt Central.
This fall, Bullitt Central will have new soccer coaches for both the boys’ and the girls’ program. In both instances, those coaches were the assistant coaches last season. Bullitt Central will also have a new volleyball coach this fall and that is another promotion of an assistant coach.
When Bullitt Central baseball coach G.J. Moore became the head coach three years ago, it was after he had been an assistant coach in the program for one year. He basically had been working at North Bullitt before being hired at Bullitt Central, probably with the thought of being a head coach at some point.
Now, the same formula will probably come into play in replacing Bates. In the present economic climate, you just are not going to see coaches from across the area looking to make a move to another school system even as strong as the Bullitt Central job might be viewed.
Bates’ top assistant this past season was Josh Cravens and at this point you would have to think that he has the inside track to the opening. He has been a part of the Lady Cougar program the past five seasons as either the junior-varsity or freshman coach. In addition, his wife, Tonya (Jacobs) is a former Bullitt Central Lady Cougar and the two of them have been working together to coach the Bernheim Lady Bruin program. Most of the Bullitt Central players have come through that program.
Cravens took over the reins for one game this past season when Bates had to be in Bowling Green for a class he was taking to acquire his Rank I certificate. The Lady Cougars did win that night.
The other ‘paid’ assistant this past season was Jennifer Ritter. She played at Bullitt East (Jennifer Fletcher). This was her first season as an assistant coach in the Lady Cougar program.
Over the Christmas break, Bullitt Central made a key hire when they picked up former Zoneton girls’ basketball coach Josh Whitehouse to fill an open spot as a physical education teacher. He worked from that time as a volunteer coach with the Lady Cougars in basketball and also worked some with the revamped track program.
It’s not hard to imagine those three just moving up a position in a new coaching staff.
Still, there is always the possibility of someone calling Rogers and making a strong pitch.
First off, you have to look at former Bullitt Central athletes who have become coaches.
Please, before we go any further, North Bullitt parents and players can relax. I would be more shocked than anyone if present Lady Eagle head coach Amber (Coy) Courtney would even think more than twice of returning to her alma matre, even with the fact that her former head coach, Coulter, would be the one hiring her.
To begin with, Courtney is building a pretty good thing there at North Bullitt. Second, her husband is the boys’ coach at North Bullitt. Third, the pay is the same at both jobs. So, those things just don’t add up.
Two other names that might come into play would be Jimmy Masden and Buddy Fluhr.
Masden is a former Bullitt Central player who has been working with girls as a head coach or an assistant coach for a number of years in Jefferson County. The job situation might be a little more stable in Bullitt County.
Fluhr could be the wild card if Coulter and Rogers were to go that route. Fluhr was the head coach at Bernheim while he was an assistant coach under Bates at Bullitt Central. In fact, it was when he left to take the head job at Pleasure Ridge Park that the two Cravens came on board at both Bernheim and Bullitt Central.
Fluhr was released from his coaching contract at Pleasure Ridge Park a year ago so he has been floating around in Jefferson County. He knows the landscape out here very well.
There is also the one factor that fans and parents never seem to grasp and that is that Rogers and Coulter would also have to find a teaching position if they decide to go outside of anyone already on staff. That is not always an easy task and has derailed good candidates in the past.
So, the good news is that Rogers and Coulter are in a good position and have a number of viable options. That has not always been the case in the past, but it is certainly the case this time.