Bogart remains coach at Mill Valley; Radell resigns
Justin Bogart spent six minutes addressing the De Soto USD 232 Board of Education at its meeting Monday night.
During that time, the 10-year boys basketball head coach at Mill Valley High School defended the way his program has been run and detailed some of its accomplishments, but he spent the bulk of his time explaining the numerous ways the program has tried to use basketball to prepare young men for life after high school.
The Board met in executive session to discuss personnel later in the meeting. When it emerged, Bogart remained in his position as head coach.
When asked after the meeting if his coaching position was in jeopardy at the start of the meeting, Bogart said he didn’t want to answer the question. He did, however, address his reason for speaking at the meeting.
“With basketball, we’re in a coaching position that at these schools are such a high profile,” Bogart said. “A good coach has to expect that he will have his critics. Even Bill Self has his critics. So my role here tonight was to address any particular criticisms that maybe have been brought up about me as a coach and to provide evidence on my own behalf to show that, one, I have a passion for it, and two, I have a passion for making kids better at playing the game of basketball and that those kids and all of the stakeholders of the basketball program will be served well. If I ever felt that I was not doing that, then I would step away from the program because that would hurt kids in the long run.”
While Bogart spoke in his own defense, another coach was absent from the meeting. Football coach George Radell turned in his resignation on Friday after 10 years at the helm. The resignation was approved during the consent agenda at the meeting.
“I spent at least half of March and the beginning of April coming to the decision,” Radell said. “I guess ultimately I thought it was the best decision for me. Is there one reason why I came to it? I don’t think there is one reason, but I’d given it a lot of thought.”
Radell said he was informed in March that he didn’t have the support of the School Board, but he said he wasn’t given an explanation why. He said MVHS principal Joe Novak and athletics director Matt Bohm were unable to shed light on it, either.
“I only know what it’s not, and anything else would be an assumption,” Radell said. “I know it’s not a decision based on character or integrity, and I guess the one assumption I can make is that it’s not performance-based since November was a long time ago.”
USD 232 communications director Alvie Cater said the district could not comment about the circumstances surrounding Radell’s resignation out of respect for his privacy.
Mill Valley was 57-37 and had seven winning seasons in 10 years under Radell’s leadership. The Jaguars won three Kaw Valley League championships and finished second twice during that span. They also won three district championships — including each of the past two seasons. The 2008 squad was the most successful in program history as it went 9-2, won an undefeated KVL title and a district championship along the way to an appearance in the Class 5A state quarterfinals. The 2009 squad had a program-record seven players sign to play at the college level.
Radell said he’d looked at a few other coaching opportunities after the season, but he said he pulled his name out of consideration for another position in January.
“I made the decision knowing that Mill Valley had some good football players coming back,” he said. “I was ready to move forward and start preparing for the 2010 football season, and then in March I got word that there was a lack of support by the School Board.”
Radell said he was proud of a lot that the program accomplished during the past 10 years. He said he would remember the relationships built with his players and his fellow coaches. In particular, he thanked MVHS wrestling coach Travis Keal who served as the program’s defensive coordinator and associate head coach when the school opened, as well as current coordinators Kale Mann and Cory Wurtz.
“At no one season did I go about it by myself,” Radell said. “I had a lot of help. Nothing was easy, but they certainly lightened the load.”
Radell is the second MVHS coach to step down this spring.
Diana Krull resigned March 22 as the head girls basketball coach. Mill Valley went 45-43 and reached the substate finals every year during Krull’s four years at the helm, but the team battled injuries and struggled to a 10-12 record this season despite returning four starters.
Calls to Krull seeking comment were not returned by press time.
While Radell and Krull won’t be back next year, Bogart will. His defense of his program during the public comment portion of the meeting may be part of the reason why.
“One program at MVHS believes that regardless of wins and losses, that the students who comprise a team should grow to leave the program as better people than when they entered — that they will be effective participants in the game of life, that they’ll understand what it means to enter the school ready to learn and to leave the school prepared to serve,” Bogart said in his address to the Board. “One program in particular does so by combining the vessels of having effective practice and ferocious competitions with the lessons that we’ve learned through supplemental activities that touch many lives beyond the program, because we know that what happens on the playing field is just a supplement to what will happen in life.”
Bogart told the Board that his program was the first at Mill Valley to hold youth camps for elementary school students in the district. He talked at length about his program’s annual work with the Special Olympics. He spoke of the important roles that special-needs students have served in the basketball program, and told the Board that the basketball program’s highest honor — the Daniel Hashagen Award — is named for a special-needs student who served as the team’s manager for four years.
Bogart also informed the board that in addition to holding team dinners, the program brings in etiquette experts to teach players proper manners and then holds a dinner with the players’ mothers to show what they’ve learned.
Bogart also addressed the need to perform on the court and reminded the Board that his program “has won more than it’s lost, has earned its share of league titles, has found itself on the highest stage of competition that the (Kansas State) High School Activities Association allows.”
When he finished speaking, a group of about 15 fellow Mill Valley coaches and staff members in attendance gave Bogart a loud round of applause.
The only head coach the program has ever known, Mill Valley is 135-83 under Bogart. The Jaguars have won two KVL championships and finished in the top three in the league five times. They also made a state tournament appearance during the 2005-2006 season when they posted a 22-3 record.
The team has posted winning records in seven of Bogart’s 10 years, but two of those losing campaigns have come during the past three seasons. This season’s Jaguars struggled as they attempted to replace three starters lost to graduation and another who transferred to nearby St. James Academy. They battled numerous injuries while one player transferred to Bishop Miege mid-season and another quit. They finished with a 9-12 record.
After the meeting, Bogart addressed the struggles of the most recent season and said he was optimistic that the program would return to its winning ways soon.
“We didn’t necessarily have a great season this year, but for the most part the kids responded well to that adversity and I look forward to seeing what we can do next year,” he said. “I guess what I’m also proud of is there’s the sense that we will be a better basketball team in the future, and that gets me energized to go out and go to work.”