Athletic directors at the Class 5A level have proven to be the most invested in controlling their own playoff destiny since a switch to the...
A pair of former St. Mary's standouts will take over the coaching reins in two sports next season.
Eric Guyer and Katie Miller will take over for boys basketball coach Braden Benton and volleyball coach Ken McKinney, respectively.
Benton was hired in 2011 and McKinney last season.
Their replacements are very familiar with the Crusaders.
Guyer was a three-year starter for a St. Mary's basketball squad that went 25-1 in his senior year and finished second at state in 1991.
"I have always loved this program," said Guyer, who was a guard.
Miller — who was formerly Katie Hansen — graduated from St. Mary's in 1998 after earning all-league honors in volleyball and softball. Playing the setter position, Miller helped the Crusaders capture back-to-back conference crowns and make a pair of state semifinal appearances. She went on to play both sports at Pacific University, where she earned a degree in exercise science and a master's in teaching.
Miller, who is a science teacher at St. Mary's Middle School, has coached some high school and club volleyball the last 14 seasons and previously guided the softball program at St. Mary's for four years, claiming conference softball coach of the year honors in 2007.
Guyer earned an English degree at the University of Oregon and a master's in management at Southern Oregon University. He has coached youth sports in Ashland for seven years and has spent 20 years working with at-risk children and families. Guyer currently manages the Community Justice Transition Center for Jackson County and is an adjunct professor of criminology at SOU.
"I'm really pleased with the energy and enthusiasm he brings," St. Mary's athletic director James Joy said. "Having an alum is always helpful in terms of being a good fit for your school. They know your school and expectations.
"I am really pleased with the addition of both of them."
Guyer has worked with the team for about three weeks.
"We're getting things up and running and I'm getting to know the kids and families," Guyer said. "We are trying to run a pressure defense and utilize the quickness we have. The really big thing is I'm trying to engage kids at a young age and have them grow and progress through the system and become complete players."
Randy Shipley, who coached Guyer in high school, was a major influence, he said.
"He had a lot to do with the way I approach the game," Guyer said. "He meant a lot to me."
St. Mary's returning basketball starters include juniors-to-be Connor Vinyard and Eli Conway. The Crusaders finished 14-7 overall and took third in the Southern Cascade Hybrid last winter.
One key loss is Kaden Benton, Braden's son who graduated.
In volleyball, McKinney moved to Eagle Point, opening the door for Miller. Joy coached her on the JV team before she moved up, and he led the varsity program her senior campaign.
Miller inherits a program that went 8-12 overall last fall and finished third in the SCH. The Crusaders only lose two seniors.
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him online at twitter.com/danjonesmt