Hoxie coach Dardis hired as AD/coach in Sublette
By BRETT MARSHALL
Special to the Hays Daily News
When Sublette High School Athletic/Activities Director Monty Marlin recently accepted the offer to become principal at USD 374, he immediately went about the task of the hiring process for a replacement, not only for his position, but also to hire a boys' basketball coach after Justin Moore resigned at the conclusion of his third season guiding the Larks' program.
It didn't take Marlin long to find the person he was looking for, and rather than hire two people for the positions, he had designed the job description for one.
Marlin announced that the school has hired Aaron Dardis of Hoxie to become both the athletic/activities director and the boys basketball coach, of which his duties will begin early this summer.
"We wanted first to hire somebody to focus on the boys program, which has been a strong program for a long time," Marlin said during a Saturday afternoon interview. "We also wanted to hire an athletic director that could focus on those events."
What sets this hire apart from most small to middle-sized class school districts is that there are no teaching duties for Dardis in his new roles at Sublette.
"It takes an awful lot to teach a few classes like I did the past couple of years, and then handle all the athletics/activities as well as trying to coach," Marlin said.
In Dardis, Marlin has found one of the young rising stars in the prep basketball coaching ranks.
Hoxie is a Class 1A Division I school located in northwest Kansas, and Dardis has been the head coach there for the Indians since 2005. His overall record in nine seasons was 152-71 (.682), and his teams averaged nearly 17 wins per season. This past season, his team finished went 24-2 and was the state 1A-I runner-up, the highest finish in school history.
His teams have made four appearances in state tournaments, 2007 in Class 2A and the last three seasons in Class 1A-I. In 2012, the Indians placed third in the state tourney with a 20-5 record, at the time tied the best in school history.
"I believe coaching is an extension of teaching in the classroom," Dardis said in a Sunday telephone interview. "In terms of basketball, I like to play high-tempo and pressure defense if we have the personnel to do that."
During his tenure, Dardis' teams claimed three Northwest Kansas League titles, the first time for such an accomplishment in more than 25 years. Twice, his teams have defeated top-ranked teams in Class 2A and 1A-I, and also defeated the No. 2-ranked teams on two occasions.
Prior to his arrival at Hoxie, Dardis coached for one season at Blue Valley-Randolph, where his team posted a 15-6 season record. In his basketball program development program at Hoxie, his team earned the NWKL all-academic team award, posting the highest grade-point-average in the league. He was selected as the Hays Daily News' All-Area Boys Coach of the Year in 2013, and in 2014 was the CCC Northwest Kansas Boys Coach of the Year. He is a representative for Class 1A on the board of the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association, and also has coached in three all-star games, winning all three.
Dardis earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in sociology in 2001 from Kansas State University, as well as a B.S. in Secondary Education from KSU in 2004. In 2013, he received a Master's of Science degree in Educational Administration from Fort Hays State University, compiling a 4.0 GPA. In addition to his coaching duties at Hoxie, Dardis has taught social sciences, including courses in U.S. history, government, economics, world history, current events, sociology and psychology. He had taught physical education at Blue Valley-Randolph.
"The athletic director position is the sole reason I went and got my master's degree," Dardis said. "I wanted to be an A.D., but didn't want to give up coaching. Those opportunities are rare. When I met Mr. Marlin and Mr. (Rex) Bruce, the superintendent, that did a great job of selling me on Sublette, the school and the position."
He also has earned a Registered Athletic Administration certification from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. In 2011, he participated as a Fort Hays State University Cooperating Teacher, where he mentored FHSU student teachers on their strengths and weaknesses, which improved instruction, organization and classroom management.
While he officially won't begin in the district until August, Dardis said he plans to come to Sublette to begin working with the boys' basketball team in June.
"I have a lot of respect for the Hi-Plains League (Sublette's league)," Dardis said. "You look at the teams involved in that league and they've had a lot of success at the state level, and they are very competitive. It's a great league to be a part of."
Marlin, who has 34 years of coaching, teaching and administrative experience in the Sublette school district, was excited about Dardis' hiring.
"Everybody we've talked to has had nothing but high praise about his coaching, teaching and administrative skills," Marlin said.
"We're excited to have him coming to Sublette to work with our student-athletes."
Dardis, who was born in Dover, Del., but moved to Eudora when he was in kindergarten, is a graduate of Eudora High School. He and his wife, Jennifer, have two daughters, Sarah, 6, and Jordan, 3.