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SPOTLIGHT
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Curt Christians decides to leave Lakeside

Published on -6/17/2012, 6:09 PM

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By CONOR NICHOLL

Son of Andy Nicholl

Curt Christians, the architect of the Downs-Lakeside High School football program's turnaround, recently decided to leave the Knights and become an assistant coach at Mankato-Rock Hills.

Near the end of the school year, Kyle Beisner, formerly the physical education instructor, had moved up to principal.

Lakeside wanted to assign Christians to all of the physical education classes for the school district that covers Glen Elder, Cawker City and Downs. Christians had been teaching some elementary gym classes in Glen Elder and taught some math and computer classes, too.

Christians, also a Lakeside assistant for boys' basketball and track, thought about the new job for several weeks and declined to take the new position. Christians said teaching P.E. "was just too much for me."

"I am 60 years old, and I didn't want to do all of those P.E. classes everyday and then have a couple hours of practice afterwards," he said. "... At my age, just being on my feet all day with kids -- I like working with kids, that's what I do -- but I was tired enough at the end of each day that I knew that (the new position) was going to be that much more strenuous and maybe somewhat more stressful."

Lakeside asked Christians about just coaching, but Christians said he couldn't just coach and make enough to live on. There were no other available positions in the school district either teaching or doing para work.

"I just told them I would find something else," Christians said. "No hard feelings or anything. Business is business. I am kind of in the process of finding something else."

Beisner and Cory Beougher were Christians' assistants for football, while Beisner was head boys' basketball coach and led the Knights to a Class 1A, Division I state tournament appearance last winter.

Before Christians stepped aside, Beisner and Beougher had resigned from football. Christians said Beisner is expected to stay on as basketball coach. Lakeside has hired Kody Tegtmeier, a former Hanover assistant, as head football coach.

Christians had worked with veteran Rock Hills coach Sam Meyers at the Eight-Man All-Star Game last week and discovered the Grizzlies had an opening. He also is likely going to be an assistant track coach. Christians is uncertain what his teaching position will be, but thinks he will teach some special education courses. He is teaching drivers' education this summer.

"I just kind of played the faith card there and trusting that something will open up," he said.

Christians was the longtime coach at Beloit-St. John's/Tipton and was famous for leading an 11-player roster to the state championship game.

"I was going to stay at St. John's forever, and graduate and get buried underneath the goal posts," he said. "It didn't work out and life moves on."

At Lakeside, he turned around a program that had struggled since the Waconda East school district consolidated to form Lakeside in 2003. Four years ago, when Christians was an assistant, the Knights went 0-8. Then in Christians' first season as head coach, Lakeside improved to 4-5, then 8-2 and the program's first playoff berth in 2010.

Of the 23 Kansas squads that went winless in 2008, it marked the biggest two-season turnaround, according to preppowerindex.com.

Last year, the Knights advanced to the Eight-Man, Division I sub-state championship game and finished 11-1 before they lost to Madison, the two-time defending state champion.

Lakeside produced multiple all-state players, including wideout Connor Shoemaker and fullback Miles Thomas.

"I am very proud of it," Christians said of the turnaround. "But it wasn't just me. It was the kids, the assistant coaches, Coach Beisner and Coach Beougher. They have done a lot ofwork and the kids have bought in."

The Knights graduated all but two starters, but Christians said the program should have "10 or 11" seniors for 2012. The few returning starters didn't play a role in Christians' decision to leave.

"The whole reason for my coming back was strictly just the teaching part," he said. "I just didn't want to take on all of those physical education duties."

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