MORRISON – For a brief moment during Thursday’s school board meeting at Morrison High School, its athletic program was looking to fill five head coaching openings in time for the 2017-18 school year.
During the board’s closed session, two of the positions officially opened up, and then another two were filled.
The board received resignations from Dave Peugh as boys basketball coach and Rory Coghlan as boys track coach. Not too long after that, Korby Paul was hired to be Morrison’s head softball coach, and Kerry Grim was hired to take over the girls basketball program.
There is still a vacancy for the school’s golf coach, last held by Adam Smith.
The boys basketball position has been an item of local interest. Athletic Director Gregg Dolan said Wednesday that he was still meeting with candidates this week, along with Morrison High School principal Kay Harwood.
“We’re still in the process of hiring a boys basketball coach,” Harwood said. “I’m hoping to get that settled, but at this time we’ve decided to take a few moments and rework, and come up with a candidate.”
Paul, a 2005 graduate of Rock Falls High School, was a 2-year varsity pitcher who led the Rockets to a fourth-place finish in the 2004 Class A state finals. She played collegiate ball at Quincy University, and teaches fifth grade at Southside Elementary School in Morrison. She has coached youth softball with Rock Falls Little League, and, as a player, won nine consecutive state titles on youth teams from 1997 to 2005.
Paul takes over for Tammy Deter, who was the only head coach the softball program had since its inception in 1994. She will also need to round up a coaching staff, as all of Deter’s assistants also stepped down at the end of this past season.
“She has experience playing in college and has coached a variety of age levels throughout the community, and is very enthusiastic,” Harwood said of Paul. “She’s got big shoes to fill, we know, and she knows, but I also think she’s up to the task of building and growing the program.”
Grim is a 1987 graduate of Rock Falls, where she was a three-sport athlete. She has taught at Freeport and Rock Falls high schools.
“She brings 10 years’ experience from Freeport coaching varsity girls basketball, so we’re very excited to have her here,” Harwood said of Grim. “We’re going to be in a rebuilding process in our girls sports programs right now, and I think she’s going to help bring kids in.”
Peugh stepped down after Morrison did not rehire his assistant coach, Jim DuBois, at last month’s board meeting. Peugh and DuBois were assistants at Sterling together from 2009 to 2011, before Peugh was hired as Morrison’s head girls basketball coach for one season, and brought DuBois along. Both coaches moved to the boys team in 2013.
Peugh was disappointed at the news of DuBois’ non-renewal, and after a week of contemplating, decided to step down. He coached underclassmen for 18 years at his alma mater in Rock Falls before coaching at Sterling, and has almost 35 years of basketball coaching experience.
“They must have thought we weren’t doing something right,” Peugh said. “When you don’t have the support of the administration, there’s not much you can do.”
Tyler Whitebread left to take a job at Erie High School, teaching driver education and health. He was an assistant football coach at Morrison, and will join Chuck Milem’s staff on the Erie-Prophetstown football co-op. Whitebread took over the Fillies’ girls basketball job after Peugh’s lone season there.
“It was a teaching thing,” Whitebread said. “I’m going to be a football assistant coach over there. I’m not coaching basketball as of now, but we’ll see what happens. It’s a lot of coaching jobs open [at Morrison], and Dolan’s got a lot on his plate right now.”
Both Peugh and Whitebread struggled in their opening seasons with their respective programs in 2013, going a combined 11-48, but have had improved campaigns since. The Mustangs went 59-83 during Peugh’s tenure. Whitebread was 62-73 as the Fillies’ coach.
Coghlan stepped down as boys track coach just before this past season started due to a family commitment, according to Dolan, and Tim Duncan assumed those duties.
The board also hired Nate Vandermyde as an assistant football coach for next season, and Kerrie Tenboer as fresh-soph volleyball coach.
Neither Paul or Grim could be reached for comment Thursday evening.