Mat Mikesell

Daniel balancing coaching two teams at North Shelby

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jan. 12, 2019 9:40 pm

It was a peculiar suggestion, but one Landon Daniel was willing to accept.

Daniel was hired over the summer to be a social studies teacher and the girls basketball coach at North Shelby High School. The school, however, also had a vacancy for the boys basketball coaching position. That's when North Shelby principal Kerri Greenwell approached Daniel about coaching both teams.

"They asked if I'd be willing to do both, because they knew I'd want to coach the boys eventually," said Daniel, who spent the last seven seasons as an assistant for the Pilot Grove girls basketball team. "I said, ‘Yeah, I think I can do that.'"

Daniel was onboard as long as it meant his sole athletic focus was on basketball. He had helped coach sports in the fall and spring at Pilot Grove and didn't get much time to see his family. He knew coaching two teams would be even more time consuming if he was coaching other sports as well.

The first few weeks of practice in November enforced that.

Daniel usually arrives at school at 7:45 a.m. each day. During November, he wouldn't go home until as late as 11 p.m.

Class dismisses at 3:05 p.m., and Daniel typically starts practice shortly after that. If the boys practice first, the girls begin warming up just before the end of the boys practice. Daniel's assistant coaches -- Jamie Williams for the girls team, Kyle Haeberlin for the boys -- help get practice running smoothly during the slight overlap.

Daniel has learned realize how valuable his assistants are.

"My assistants have made it 10 times easier," he said. "We have one team come in about 15 minutes early so when I'm done with one, and we just come in and keep rolling."

It still makes for long days and not getting to see his wife Kendra, who is expecting the couple's second child in May. The weeks when North Shelby plays in an in-season tournament are just as grueling, as the boys team can play on one night, then the girls play the next night. That could mean four games in four nights for Daniel.

"You definitely need a lot more caffeine those weeks," said Daniel, a 2007 North Shelby graduate and a member of the 2004-05 boys basketball team that won a Class 1 state championship.

During girls-boys doubleheaders, Daniel doesn't get much time to talk to the girls in postgame, and he doesn't get to talk to the boys in pregame. That's left for Williams and Haeberlin break down any necessary postgame or pregame conversations.

The 15-minute break between games allows Daniel to reset himself mentally.

"I have to chill out," he said. "How do I shut my emotions out of a girls game and gear up for a boys game? It's tough. I sit on the bench, chew a piece of gum and just chill out."

After accepting the offer to coach both teams, Daniel called Bob Roberts from Cairo and Tim Smith from Sweet Springs, who coached boys and girls varsity teams at the same time during in their tenures. Daniel said the most resounding advice they gave was treating each team as their own.

That's been the biggest emphasis.

"I don't treat the girls any different than the guys or vice versa," Daniel said. "That was my goal from the first day, and I don't want them to even notice that. It's a huge emphasis for me and the assistant coaches that what we do for the girls is the girls and what we do for the guys is for the guys."

That's why each team has their own set of plays that match their skill sets and schemes. There are some similarities in defenses and terminology, but plays are also tailored for separate teams.

It has been a formula for success so far. The boys are 8-7 heading into this week's North Shelby Tournament, while the girls are 9-6.

Daniel measures the success of his job beyond wins and losses.

"It's really trying to build two different programs," Daniel said. "The boys have had a little more success in the past, so I've spent a little more time and energy with the girls so we can change the attitude and culture. The guys can kind of pump themselves up, and I think having some success in eight-man football has helped."