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Budget cuts closing doors on coaches

Barlow High coach lands at Warner Pacific after having his on-campus teaching job sliced in the latest set of budget cuts


by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Former Barlow High track and field coach Dave Kilian is off to Warner Pacific University after being named Mount Hood Conference Coach of the Year four times in five seasons.  Barlow High’s Dave Kilian bleeds blue and gold, so he was thrilled five years ago when he landed a teaching job in the math department along with the Bruins’ head coaching position with the storied track team.

School pride flows out of Kilian, who was often spotted around campus whether it was taking stats on the football sidelines, encouraging racers along the campus cross country trails or shouting for the Bruins in a crowded basketball gym.

The problem came when his school day became too much like his life after the bell rang — he was all over the place.

Budget cuts forced Kilian to give up his classroom, as he was relegated to the school’s in-house substitute, putting him at the top of the list when a colleague could not make it in. That meant one day could be spent in an English class, while the next would find him teaching science or history.

“It’s a sign of the times in a rough economy where it’s hard to offer teaching position with our coaching openings,” Barlow Athletics Director Terry Hanson said.

At first this was seen as a temporary solution — a stopgap to keep Kilian on campus before the budget allowed him to get his regular classroom back. But he was asked to return for a second year subbing, then a third and this year a fourth.

Eventually, it wore him out.

“I compare it to being a house guest,” Kilian said. “You’re crashing on someone’s couch every day, but eventually you want your own place. I’ve been a Bruin my whole life, but on the teaching side I was done. It wasn’t something I enjoyed anymore.”

Kilian went to his supervisors and explained his frustration.

But the news didn’t get better — it got worse.

On the bus to a meet in Newberg this spring, Kilian got the phone call telling him there was no job coming available in the fall. In addition, his in-house sub position was being eliminated in the most recent round of cuts.

Over the last few years, Kilian had entertained the idea of coaching collegiately sending out a batch of assistant applications to Division I schools.

Little did he know he was on the right track.

Less than a month after hearing his job would be sliced, Kilian learned that Warner Pacific University was looking for a new track coach. The application was sent off and shortly after this year’s state meet, Kilian had the job.

“The door at Barlow was closing, but God was putting his arm around me telling me not to worry,” Kilian said. “It was like a stamp of approval — a validation to pursue the college opening.”

He takes over as the Knights’ head coach for cross country and track and will likely find himself teaching calculus courses, as well.

“I’ve always been a person who takes life as it comes,” Kilian said. “I’m stepping into a whole new world. I’m grateful for my time at Barlow and excited to see what this next chapter looks like.”

He replaces David Lee, who started the track program at Warner Pacific 13 years ago.

Kilian is a four-time Coach of the Year in the Mount Hood Conference and led the Barlow boys to runner-up state finishes in 2009 and 2010 and the girls team to a second-place finish this spring.

VanDeMerghel leaves Reynolds football, makes return to Texas

The Reynolds High football team was on its way to the state playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade, but away from the field things weren’t quite on track. Head coach Sean VanDeMerghel came to the school in 2010 expecting to teach and coach at the high school, but budget constraints shifted him to the position of testing coordinator where he organized the school’s testing for state benchmarks in math, reading and writing.

He spent two years in the position, while introducing his fast-paced pass-heavy offense on the football field. The Raiders went from a 1-9 record in his first season to a 5-5 mark last fall, highlighted by a 28-21 win over Barlow that gave the team a spot in the 6A bracket.

VanDeMerghel started this school year in the classroom, teaching a weights class in the health and physical education department. But six weeks into the semester, positions shifted and he spent mornings at Alder Creek Middle School and afternoons at Reynolds High.

“If this is the type of support they’re going to give, I couldn’t do it anymore. They’re going to have to look for someone else,” VanDeMerghel said. “You bust your tail for three years and do the things that we did. It just wasn’t fun anymore with all the other things you have to deal with that you shouldn’t have to.”

When no guarantee of a return to the high school campus full time was made, VanDeMerghel resigned the job early in the spring and began sending out coaching applications. He has landed at Sunset High in Dallas, Tex., where he will be the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He will also teach in the physical education department — Texas law requires coaches to teach at the same school.

“It’s nice to be in a state where you are appreciated as a coach and valued as a member of the school staff,” VanDeMerghel said.

Reynolds High has also moved on, hiring former Oregon State lineman Dustin Janz as head football coach. He has spent the last six seasons as an assistant coach at McClintock High in Tempe, Ariz.

“It was a tough situation with Sean, but we’re excited to be looking at the future,” Reynolds High Athletics Director John Olsen said. “We have a group of talented kids in the school right now and have seen our programs make some strides. I’m confident that Dustin will be able to build on that.”

Olsen says pairing a full-time teaching job with the opening for a coach sparked interest.

“We put the coaching job out there and response was lukewarm for a couple weeks, but the applications blew up when we were able to pair it with a teaching job,” Olsen said.

While most schools have a mix of on-campus and off-campus coaches, Olsen points out the importance of having coaches be a part of daily school life.

“It’s essential for the kids to have that daily contact with their coaches and to see that their coaches are making that commitment to being a part of the faculty,” Olsen said. “We have some great coaches who come from the private sector, but I don’t know how they do it — it’s such a heavy demand on their time.”




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