Cheney Free Press -

Cheney school board hears from high school coaches gearing up for busy fall


August 23, 2012


Staff Reporter

Fall activities have already begun for hundreds of Cheney High School students. Leaders of the football, volleyball and swim teams as well as the marching band told the Cheney school board about plans for their programs this year at the board's regular meeting Aug. 15.

Football coach Jason Williams told the board about his coaching philosophy, fashioned after Pete Carroll's approach “Winforever,” which requires each athlete to sign a pledge to buy into the philosophy. Williams said it focused on competition and self-improvement, and helped athletes learn “life lessons” for after graduation.

“I've started hearing guys talk this philosophy, and as a coach that's when you know that things are changing,” he said.

Williams said he had around 100 boys signed up for football this year.

“We're out of medium helmets,” he added.

New volleyball coach Brianne Lowe said she was excited to start working with the entire team, though she has been busy throughout the summer. Lowe organized regular open gyms for volleyball players as well as fielded teams for a summer league and team camp. Since she was not familiar with individual players, she said she elected to split teams evenly, putting inexperienced freshman on the same team as varsity players.

“Those freshmen are going to go to whatever team they end up on with a lot of great experience from the summer,” she said.

Cheney High School band and percussion teacher Mike Suhling told the board about the various music groups he would lead this school year. He said more than 160 students were enrolled in instrumental music groups, whether it's percussion ensemble, wind ensemble or jazz band.

The biggest group by far is marching band, which started camp last week with 112 students. Suhling told the board that he expected continued improvement from the marching band, which will move up a class this year and aim to beat regional rivals at competitions. Suhling credited school district support as well as financial support to the tune of $30,000 from parents and community members as a big driver in the marching band's success.

Swim coach Jennifer Hochwalt said she looked forward to another year of improvement in her teams. She said the swim team attracts more new athletes than some other sports, and she works to build basic skills and confidence in those students.

“I've had kids who have never had swim lessons,” she said, adding that it's a joy to watch those newcomers grow and eventually excel. Some have even gone on to state competitions, she said.

New CHS principal Troy Heuett credited athletics director Jim Missel for organizing a big summer coaches meeting that helped improve communication across sports.

The board handled a light agenda at its August meeting, which included a first reading of changes to the district's policy on meetings, public notice, quorum, meeting conduct and order of business, and public comment. The following changes were among those proposed to follow new state laws: written notice of public meetings would be required in writing and on the district's website; 24-hour notice would be required for changes to meeting locations; the board would have the option of adding a second public comment section before a specified vote. There were also many changes to the wording of the policy.

The board will read the policy again at its next meeting, Sept. 12 at 6 p.m. in the Fisher Building board room. A work session on district facilities is scheduled to follow the regular meeting.

Becky Thomas can be reached at

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