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By SHARON GRAVES
After several months of interviews, rumor and innuendo, it’s official: Newly retired Carroll County Schools Superintendent Carroll Yager last week was named new head coach for the Carroll County High School Panthers boys basketball team.
The appointment was confirmed by CCHS Principal John Leeper on Wednesday, July 2, after his candidate for the position passed the final hurdle – a vote of approval from the school’s site-based council.
Yager brings many years of coaching experience to his new position. He coached at four high schools before moving into school administration, Leeper said.
Yager’s duties with the team begin after the “dead period,” which began June 25 and ends today.
During the “dead period,” June 25 to July 9, no practices are allowed and coaches may not contact any student athletes. The rule was designed by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association to give student athletes, especially those who play more than one sport, a time to rest.
Leeper said he doesn’t know which coaches from retired coach David Miller’s staff would return to work for Yager, but said he is sure some of them will.
Miller, who came to CCHS as head coach in 2005, retired in March at the end of the 2007-08 season. He played for the Panthers as a student from 1968-72, and had coached for 30 years.
Leeper gave kudos to assistant coaches Travis Snow and Jay Jones for working with the team this summer, in the absence of a head coach.
“It took a lot of sacrifice on their part to keep this program going without a coach this summer,” Leeper said. The team played 24 games in June – the equivalent of an entire season.
“We are excited about July and hope the commitment level of our athletes is there, especially for those athletes that participate in multiple sports,” Leeper said. “Anyone who wants to be on the team this year should be in the gym when the dead period is over.”
In the meantime, Leeper said he is looking forward to working with his former boss. “Yager has the time, the energy and the knowledge of basketball, and he is a good human being and can show our young men what it means to be a Carroll County Panther.”
Yager, too, said he is looking forward to the new job.
"After the job opened up, I had a lot of parents and people in the community asking me about it," wondering if he might be interested in the position, he said Tuesday. "It sparked some interest. I used to coach, and I thought it would be a way to stay involved in the school system and the basketball program, in particular."
He said he has a great fondness for all of the district's sports programs, but basketball is closest to his heart. Yager was a member of the Panther basketball team from 1967-71, then played four years at Union College in Barboursville, Ky.
"I was fortunate to play college basketball. As a result, it helped me pay for my education and opened up a lot of doors for me, because of the opportunity to get an education," he said.
Before moving into administration, Yager coached basketball for 13 years. "I've coached most of the boys [on the Panthers team] in youth leagues," he said. "I have always enjoyed teaching basketball; I think it will be fun."
Yager said he still must get the green light from the state education department to take the job, because of his retirement, but he expects the paperwork to be completed in a few days, or by the end of the month.
"I think that will go OK," he said. "I've already had verbal confirmation that it won't be a problem."
Editor Phyllis McLaughlin contributed to this story.