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C. Christian coach, player coming to Otis-Bison

By LUCAS FAHRER

Special to The Hays Daily News

Central Christian is losing one of its best boys' basketball players and one of the most successful coaches in school history in one fell swoop.

Junior-to-be Kyle Patrick is following his dad, Erin Patrick, to Otis-Bison High School. Coach Patrick, who opted not to re-sign the restructured employment contract he was offered by Central Christian, confirmed the transition Monday. At Otis-Bison, he will teach math and be the new boys' basketball coach.

The move gives the elder Patrick, who led the Cougars' girls' basketball and volleyball teams for the past seven years, an opportunity to coach his son in his last two seasons of prep basketball. During his tenure with Central Christian, he coached his daughters Megan, Laura and Jamie Patrick in both sports. He led the Cougars volleyball team to its first state championship in 2010 and the basketball team to runner-up finishes in Class 1A Division II in 2011 and 2012.

That said, he hadn't planned on looking for a new place to work.

"The intent was never to leave Central," Patrick said. "To build a program and leave was not me."

Coach Patrick cited "a difference of opinion" between himself and Central Christian regarding a change in his contract.

Central Christian administrator Tim Kuhns said Patrick, who had resigned his post as the high school girls' basketball and volleyball coach, was offered a contract to continue as a math teacher and coach girls' basketball and volleyball at the middle-school level. Missing from that deal was his previous part-time role as Central Christian's admissions director.

Kuhns said the school wanted someone who could fill the role in "more of a full-time" capacity and they wanted to fill that position with someone who wasn't a coach to avoid accusations that Central Christian was recruiting athletes.

"He wanted to continue with the admissions part and we needed someone more full-time," Kuhns said. "For example, we didn't want to take him out of class when we had prospective families (visiting).

"To have your admissions person be a coach is not a real good plan."

Patrick declined to comment on the specific differences, but said both sides did not see eye-to-eye.

"When I took my difference of opinion to the school board, they decided to not offer me a contract," Patrick said. "They didn't offer me another contract nor has there been any follow-up to that."

Patrick said when he did not sign on the initial offer by the school's required deadline, the contract was off the table.

Central Christian has already started looking for replacements in Patrick's positions.

"We're making good progress but we're not ready for any announcements yet," Kuhns said.

Coach Patrick said he applied for teaching and coaching jobs at five schools, but chose Otis-Bison based on its proximity to Hutchinson and his wife's family and the leadership of USD 403 superintendent Milt Dougherty and Otis-Bison principal Mark Goodheart.

"These people are well respected in their community," Patrick said. "I wanted to go somewhere with great leadership."

Being within two hours of Hutchinson, where his daughter Jamie has one year of eligibility left with the Hutchinson Community College women's basketball team, factored into the decision.

As for the Cougars' boys basketball team, they lost a budding star and central part of their team. Kyle Patrick was a first-team selection on The Hutchinson News' 2011-12 All-Reno County basketball team after a breakout freshman year in which he averaged more than 14 points per game. He missed the beginning of the Cougars' 2012-13 basketball campaign while rehabbing fromtorn knee ligaments but returned to the starting five midway through January.

After a 5-2 start without Patrick, Central Christian cruised through the rest of the regular season and substate with him, and took a 19-3 record to their first-ever appearance at the 1A Division II state tournament in Hays. The Cougars were upset by eventual state champion Axtell in the first round.

Central Christian boys basketball coach Adam Clark said he held a team meeting after they found out the Patricks were moving to Otis-Bison and reiterated to his team that their plans of pursuing a state title would not change.

"I told them that we're not a one-man team. The goals are the same as when (Kyle) was here and when's he gone," Clark said. "We wish him well."

The 6-foot-4 junior will be a welcome addition for Otis-Bison. Kyle and his dad join a program that was just 7-15 last year but went 46-27 in its three previous seasons.

"It's an opportunity for (Kyle), just like here, to be a leader," coach Patrick said.