Lack of teaching jobs impacts coach hires at CHS

Soter latest to resign, will return to Rogers


Having five head coaches leave their positions at the end of the school year isn’t a situation Cheney High School athletic director Jim Missel has faced before. But it’s one the Blackhawks’ sports program finds itself in as 2012-2013 draws to a close, although two of those positions have now been filled.

Missel’s dilemma began at the end of the winter sports season when Lady Hawks’ basketball head coach Jennifer Harmer resigned after only two seasons. Harmer replaced former head coach Hal Sauter, who took over in 2005 to stabilize a program that saw two coaches leave in two years.

Not long after Harmer, wrestling head coach Wade Schlotter elected to hang it up after guiding the Blackhawks for the past 10 years. Schlotter’s departure was followed by the resignation of boys track and field head coach Todd Hering, who is moving to the Puget Sound area, the departure of boys basketball head coach Joel Soter for a similar position at Rogers High School, and the stepping down of Randy Elam after eight years coaching the CHS baseball team.

Elam remains with the Blackhawks program as an assistant, with former junior varsity coach and high school career and technical education teacher Mike Cagle taking over as varsity head coach. Missel said Tuesday he has hired former Lady Hawks JV coach Shannon Root as the new girls basketball head coach.

Root has been with the Cheney program since 2010, serving as C team assistant coach and sub-varsity head coach. She was also the Lady Hawks softball C team coach in 2011, and C team assistant at North Central High in Spokane 2009-2010.

Root also teaches science at Cheney High. In fact, Missel said one of the biggest obstacles he faces right now in getting candidates to even apply for the open positions is that there is a lack of teaching positions open in the district to provide for would-be coaches.

Joel Soter

“One guy called and said he was interested but couldn’t do it without a teaching job,” Missel said. “I’ve never seen it so bad where there are no (open) teaching jobs.”

Missel said other districts in the Great Northern League are facing similar problems. Without teaching positions, districts must look to coaches who are either retired or who work private sector jobs, which can lead to difficulties arranging work schedules to accommodate practices and games.

“You want a first class operation, but they also need to put food on the table,” Missel said. “You’re not getting people who are teachers and coaches.”

Missel does have two possible candidates for both the boys basketball and boys track coaching positions, as well as one for wrestling.

John McCallum can be reached at


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