TMP coaches go way back


Thomas More Prep-Marian senior guard Annie Mindrup said she could tell her basketball coaches have been together for a long time when she noticed they finished each other's sentences.

"They do everything together," Mindrup said. "They are always on the same page."

It's head coach Rose McFarland's and assistant coach Stephanie Schaffer's first stint together at TMP, but they have been a dynamic duo for much of the past decade.

The two first met at Fort Hays State University.

McFarland was an assistant coach for women's head coach Tom Mahon, and Schaffer, a Hoxie native, returned to western Kansas after playing collegiate ball at Barton County Community College and University of Texas-San Antonio. She was hired as a student assistant for one year and became a graduate assistant for the next two.

"We broke down film a lot," Schaffer said.

"We got a lot of the scouting reports ready. We got all the traveling plans ready with where we were going to eat and where we were going to stay. We just took care of the girls."

McFarland was impressed enough by Schaffer's work at FHSU that when McFarland got a job coaching at WaKeeney-Trego Community High School, she asked Schaffer to be her assistant coach.

At Trego, the two carpooled together 30 minutes there and 30 minutes back to Hays each day. It was a strain for Schaffer, who was working full time at the Hays Medical Center and later the Center for Health Improvement.

"She met me in the parking lot," she said. "We went there, and I went back to work. It was five years of -- I can't believe I did it."

The daily car ride turned into a strategy session, though.

"That was some coaching time together," McFarland said. "Over and back, we had an hour every day we could discuss what was going on."

McFarland said Schaffer works well with her.

"Sometimes, (McFarland) has to build them up or break them down, and you have to have someone that complements that," Schaffer said. "That is my role, and I love that role."

They coached at Trego from 2001-2006, and together, they led Trego to two state tournaments.

Then the two coaches spent six years away from coaching.

Then McFarland, who was a head coach at Downs, Phillipsburg and TMP before getting a job at FHSU, saw Alan Billinger retired and wanted the opportunity to return to TMP -- a place she coached from 1991-1995.

McFarland said she knew she wanted Schaffer back at her side.

However, in six years, much had changed.

Schaffer moved up the ladder and became the fitness director at CHI. Not only that, she also has a wedding to plan.

There was much on her plate, but she said the itch to return to coaching was too great.

"If I could get my hand in it again, I was excited, because I was away from it for five or six years," Schaffer said.

After all, basketball has played a significant role in both of their lives.

Schaffer played under her dad at Hoxie and was active in it throughout college whether it was playing or coaching. McFarland said she might not have gone to college if it wasn't for basketball.

"Sports gave me the opportunity to go to college and pay for it," McFarland said.

"It's been a really good thing for me personally, and I know she's been through that, too."

They agreed they coach because they want to try and impart those positive experiences with their girls.

"You learn a lot of morals and values from playing basketball. It's a lot about life," Schaffer said. "I think it's awesome to come back and teach young female athletes what you experience in high school, on the basketball court or in the classroom isn't exactly what it's going to be. There's so much more to that."

Schaffer said when players do drills and have to touch the lines, it's important for them to touch the line every single time -- not just for what they gain on the basketball court.

"Life isn't about taking shortcuts," she said.

Even now, as their team sits at 2-10, McFarland said it's a learning experience. It's important for their kids to realize that life is full of peaks and valleys.

After all, the Monarchs are 1-1 in league play, and there's still much left that can be accomplished.

"We've played some tough competition here this year, but I'm looking forward to the battle down the stretch," McFarland said. "That is really going to tell the tale of what this team is like."