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Klahowya basketball coach departing for crosstown alma mater
It was one of the toughest decisions Scott McMinds has had to make.
After transforming the Klahowya boys basketball program from a winless 0-20 team in 2004-05 into a playoff program, McMinds has decided to take on another challenge, accepting the position of boys hoops coach at crosstown Central Kitsap High School.
“It was definitely a difficult decision,” McMinds said. “I put in a lot of time and effort here at Klahowya. It was definitely a difficult decision leaving behind a program I worked so hard to improve. But I feel good at the same time knowing I’m leaving the program in good shape.”
A 1991 graduate of Central Kitsap, McMinds was the Cougs’ starting point guard as a sophomore and junior. McMinds was in a sledding accident his senior year, leaving him in a wheelchair. But rather than turn away from hoops, McMinds began coaching the school’s C-team with then-coach John Sitton’s blessing.
He truly began flourishing as a coach in 1997 however, taking the junior high hoops job at KSS the year the school opened, eventually working into the head coaching position.
The CK boys hoops job came open when Tim Fryer stepped down after this season. Fryer, who compiled a 72-48 record in five season, as well as a fifth-place finish at state in 2004, left to concentrate on his own business.
“I like to have change,” McMinds said of taking the CK job. “I think often times when we’re stretched out a little bit, challenged, we grow. I just feel kind of rejuvenated and energized with a new challenge.”
While McMinds himself went just 49-144 in nine season as Klahowya, the past two seasons he guided the Eagles to district tournament appearances. He also had the team within a win of state in 2003 and 2004.
“One of the things I’ve taken away from this is you’ve got to surround yourself with good people,” McMinds said, attributing much of his own success to his assistants. “The coaching staff I’ve worked with here has been top notch. They don’t receive near enough credit for the work they put in.”
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of his interdistrict coaching move will be the fact McMinds will continue to teach at KSS.
“A couple students looked at me and kind of gave me a weird look (when I told them),” he said. “They asked why I was doing that. But I don’t think it’ll be that weird.”
CK athletic director Bill Baxter said with McMinds already holding a teach position within the district — something that can be hard to come by at times — the fit was natural.
“It worked out to be a pretty good fit,” Baxter said. “You couldn’t ask for a better situation.”
The hardest part of leaving Klahowya will be the kids he’s coached throughout his time there, McMinds said.
“That’ll be tough,” he said specifically of the incoming seniors. “But at the same time, it’s a really good thing. I feel like whoever steps into my position will have something to work with. But I’ll miss seeing those guys in their senior year.”
At Klahowya, he’s had contact with his future players because middle schoolers also attend KSS. That’ll be the biggest adjustment for McMinds at CK.
“I’m excited for that challenge,” he said. “Here it’s seamless. You see the middle school kids in the hall. That’s one thing I want to work on.”
In addition to building more continuity between the junior highs and CKHS, McMinds said he wants to increase overall turnout. CK hasn’t had too many cuts in recent seasons. McMinds said with more kids to have to cut comes more competition for the jobs at hand.
“In a school the size of Central Kitsap, you should have to make multiple cuts,” he said. “That really builds a program. The more cuts we’ve had at Klahowya, the better we’ve been.”
But for now he’s ready to start building relationships with his new players.
“I’m just looking forward to getting to know some of the guys, encouraging them to play to the best of their ability,” McMinds said. “I want to win basketball games and I want to develop athletes and young men. I’m just excited to be a part.”
He said without the people around him at Klahowya, especially his players, he could never have had this chance.
“I thank the kids for working so hard to even give me this opportunity,” McMinds said.