Vandebilt looking for basketball coaches

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Vandebilt Catholic High School will have two new head basketball coaches next fall.

Terriers’ Athletic Director Margaret Johnson confirmed to The Times on Friday afternoon that both boys’ basketball coach Mike Toups and girls’ basketball coach Kiely Schork have informed the school they will not return to the program next season.

Both jobs have been posted as available on the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s website, and Vandebilt is in the process of collecting applicants for each position.

Johnson emphasized the decisions were made 100 percent by the coaches, who both are seeking opportunities elsewhere.

The Terriers were 18-13 this past season, including a 5-3 mark in district play. The Lady Terriers were 13-14 and 4-4 in district.

Both teams lost in the first round of the Class 4A State Playoffs.

“I can tell you that the jobs have just become open, yes,” Johnson said. “Mike is leaving to go closer to home in New Orleans, and Kiely is leaving because she had an opportunity to go teach overseas, which is something that’s always been a goal and a dream that she’s had. … Both are leaving on their own, and both are leaving on good terms. I think that both Mike and Kiely did an excellent job of coaching. I appreciate all that they’ve given to Vandebilt.

“We’re really sorry to see them go, but we certainly wish them both the best of luck in their futures. We’d have loved to have them both back.”

The new head coach of the Vandebilt girls’ basketball team will be the third coach that the school has had in three years.

Since longtime head coach Kathy Luke resigned in 2013 after 27 years with the program, the Lady Terriers haven’t been blessed with either the stability, or the success that the team had under the Hall of Fame coach’s watch.

The Lady Terriers replaced Luke with Katrell Dixon, but he resigned after one season, posting a 13-15 record in his only year with the team – a season that ended in the opening round of the Class 4A State Playoffs.

After Dixon’s resignation, the school passed the baton over to Schork, who entered the program with a colorful resume that was filled with successful career stops. Schork was a star player at Loyola University under then-coach DoBee Plaisance, from 2003-08.

She also had head coaching experience with Archbishop Chapelle, leading the Chipmunks to the playoffs twice.

With Vandebilt, Schork experienced similar success and made the most of a young roster, leading the Lady Terriers to the 4A Playoffs.

“I think this year has been very fun,” Lady Terriers’ All-District senior forward Cassidy Barrios said during the season. “We’re young, but I think we’ve done a good job battling through it all season.”

But instead of building on that success and trying to push forward in 2015-16, the Lady Terriers will again be starting from scratch with a coach who will be in his/her first year commanding the program.

Johnson said she doesn’t believe that the girls’ basketball program has a problem with stability, touting that most people don’t understand how difficult it is to be a varsity coach at the prep level of competition – a challenge that makes it tough for administrators to find the right fit for a program.

The Terriers’ AD said she’ll want the new coach to come in and regenerate interest and passion within the sport.

“Coaching requires so much dedication and so much time. It just takes a lot of a person, you know?” Johnson said. “But this job also takes somebody who is used to our area, is comfortable in our area and who is passionate. You have to build interest. You have to understand that getting kids interested in the sport of basketball at a young age is difficult because it requires a wider array of skills than do other sports. We need our new coach to get that interest back in that sport so it can grow.”

On the boys’ side, Toups will depart after two seasons with the Terriers.

He was hired in 2013 after five-year coach Hank Washington was forced out of the program after allegedly texting a student inappropriately.

Toups took over the Terriers’ program at a time in transition – the year after dynamic college-bound talents like Lionheart Leslie, Elijah McGuire and Aaron Smith had graduated from the program.

In Toups’ first season, the Terriers struggled mightily, winning just 10 games and missing the playoffs.

But in year two, the veteran coach turned things around. Vandebilt was one of the better teams in the area in 2014-15, winning 18 games and punching a ticket to the playoffs.

With a handful of rotation players returning, the new Terriers’ coach will be taking over a team that has talent within its depth chart.

Johnson said she expects “a lot” of applicants and interest in both coaching jobs.

She said the school doesn’t necessarily have a set timeline for a hire, but that the school would like to have new coaches in place for the end of the semester so that the basketball teams can go through summer conditioning.

Attempts to reach Toups and Schork were unsuccessful at press-time.