Prep pulse: July 2, 2018

Prep pulse: July 2, 2018

Coaching changes are bound to happen in high school sports, for any number of reasons.

But it's hard to overlook just how many coaches have stepped aside following their respective 2017-18 campaigns.

Tons of well-known individuals have decided to move on from coaching, or jump from one leadership position to another.

Two of the most jarring, if not totally unsurprising, were St. Joseph-Ogden softball's Randy Wolken and St. Thomas More girls' golf's Pat Hettermann. Both were the only coach their program had ever known, and both decided it was time to let someone else take a crack at the top job. Wolken departed after 37 years, and Hettermann after 15.

There's plenty more. The area boys' basketball scene was unsettled by departures of Mahomet-Seymour bench boss Chad Benedict and SJ-O leader Brian Brooks. They'd been with their clubs for 12 and 15 years, respectively, and succeeded on various levels during those time frames.

Football has been far from immune, as Champaign Central needed a new coach after Nate Albaugh left, then became the first-ever head man at Judah Christian. Oakwood's Wade DeVries, Clinton's Nick Blackburn, Tri-County's Casey Pinnell, Villa Grove/Heritage's Joe Stokowski and Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond's Dale Schuring all stepped aside.

Another change was Prairie Central wrestling coach Mark Payne moving on after producing two state champions in February. Central volleyball's Manny Rodriguez left his program, as did Uni High boys' basketball's Darin O'Connell, Hoopeston Area boys' basketball's Matt Colston, Hoopeston Area baseball's Carl Heuer and Salt Fork baseball's Ryan High.

But no local school has been bitten harder by this coaching-vacancy bug than St. Thomas More.

In addition to Hetterman, openings were made in boys' basketball, girls' basketball, girls' tennis, softball, girls' cross-country and girls' track and field, the last two of those coming most recently when Tessa Hanlon committed to a grad school program.

Many of the aforementioned changes already have been addressed, but it's still been a wild several months in area coaching.