Cooper resigns as BHS coach
In a surprise announcement, Baldwin High School boys' basketball coach Heath Cooper resigned last week to accept a job closer to home.
Cooper found out April 18 that he got the job as the new boys' basketball coach at JC Harmon in Kansas City, Kan.
"They actually offered the job two weeks ago," Cooper said. "It wasn't official until the beginning of last week. I called them on Tuesday and that's when they told me it was official."
Cooper's primary reason for the move is the distance from his home.
"It's 10 minutes from my house," Cooper said of JC Harmon. "This (BHS) is 50 minutes, if traffic's good. Plus the rising cost of gas. But mainly, it's closer to my house."
Another reason for the change was Cooper's friend, Brian Everett, became athletic director at the school.
"A good friend of mine just got hired as the athletic director there," Cooper said. "He will also be the football coach there. I really believe in his visions for the athletic department there, which is not in good shape right now. I do believe in him and it's a good opportunity for me."
Cooper also student taught at JC Harmon during the 2000-2001 school year while he attended the University of Kansas.
"I did my student teaching there for a full year, when I went through KU's education program," Cooper said. "So I know what it's like. It's definitely a different environment than here."
The change to an inner-city school will be a change from Baldwin, but Cooper is aware of the change.
"With teenagers in general, there are always challenges," Cooper said. "There are going to be different challenges than there would be here."
He will be taking over a team that has won five games in the past three years and only 10 since 2000.
"I do think it is a good opportunity," Cooper said. "The program is really down, but it is a good opportunity to build something up there."
Cooper was hired in June 2004 after former coach Jeff Haas resigned under pressure. Cooper led the Bulldogs to a 22-21 record in his two years at BHS.
The Bulldogs finished tied for third in the Frontier League this season.
"It was a great learning experience for me, both as a coach and a teacher," Cooper said of his time at BHS. "I am really proud of what we did here with the basketball program, considering the way things were when we came in. I really think we laid a firm foundation. It was a really good ride for me."
Though he will miss some things about BHS, Cooper is ready for his new job.
"I am looking forward to it, but there are many aspects about here that I will miss, especially the players, students and coaching staff," Cooper said. "I will miss them a great deal. Moving up to (Class) 5A is definitely going to be a challenge and just being in the inner city is going to a challenge within itself. It's one I am looking forward to."
BHS Athletic Director Gary Stevanus said the district will be accepting applications for the coaching job up until May 2. He also said he hopes to have a new coach announced at the May 8 Board of Education meeting.
"We would like to act as quickly as possible," Stevanus said.