By AUSTIN COLBERT
When Saul Hernandez, the head coach of the boys' and girls' soccer teams at Hays High School, recently was turned down for a teaching position at Hays Middle School, he was forced to make a decision he didn't want to make.
"I got two little ones, and I need to support my family," Hernandez said of his two sons, ages 2 and 3. "I needed a teaching job, and I got an offer from Topeka and an offer from Liberal. Me and my family analyzed it, and we chose Liberal. But it was strictly for teaching P.E. It wasn't soccer-related."
On Monday, the USD 489 Board of Education accepted Hernandez's resignation after he accepted a teaching position at McKinley Elementary School in Liberal.
Hernandez, a Fort Hays State University graduate who earned his license to teach physical education a year ago, had been working as a paraprofessional in the Hays district, waiting for a teaching position to open. One finally did, but the job was offered to someone else, and Hernandez decided to look elsewhere.
A 2002 Dodge City High School graduate, Hernandez was the Western Athletic Conference coach of the year in girls' soccer this season. In his only season leading the Indians, he led the girls' team to a 13-4-1 record and trip to the regional championship game, and guided the boys' team to a 6-10 regular-season mark.
Hernandez plans to become an assistant boys' soccer coach for Liberal High School this fall.
"I liked doing things my way, and I had already gotten the hang of being the head coach. But what is going to be tougher for me is definitely moving from Hays and the community," said Hernandez, who has lived in the Hays area for five years. "I know a lot of kids here. I'm stepping away from all my soccer kids and their parents. They showed great support for me throughout the whole year. That's what is going to be tougher, not stepping away from being a head coach."
Prior to becoming Hays High's head coach, Hernandez spent two seasons as an assistant under former coach Chris Michaelis, who is set to become the HHS athletic director/assistant principal July 1. Hernandez spent one season as an assistant boys' coach at Thomas More Prep-Marian High School.
He plans to move to Liberal at the end of July.
"I didn't really want to move from the Hays area," Hernandez said. "My fiance's family lives here. We didn't want to take the kids too far away from their grandparents. ... I'm more familiar with the southwest Kansas area than Topeka. Location (is important), and my family still lives in Dodge and it's a little closer."
Michaelis, who spent 17 seasons leading the HHS girls' soccer team and 16 leading the boys' before stepping down at the end of the 2013 spring season, will be tasked with replacing Hernandez.
Michaelis is replacing Clint Albers, who now is the athletic director at Olathe South.