Two new head coaches will be leading the Chanute High School basketball and football teams for the upcoming seasons.
On Monday, the USD 413 school board voted in favor to place Devon Crabtree as the new basketball coach, while the board also voted for Clete Frazell to be the next head coach for the football team.
Crabtree, 29, who is the new physical education teacher for Chanute Elementary School, will journey full circle as the next coach for the basketball squad. Graduating in 2008 from CHS, Crabtree played shooting guard ‑ averaging a deft 18 points on 54 percent shooting his senior year and being a part of All-SEK teams as well as an All-State honorable mention ‑ for former CHS head coach Max Ruark, the coach he will be replacing.
"He played his senior year with stress fractures in both shins," Ruark commented. "Tough player and kid. He was a gym rat who made himself into a terrific player. Great kid to coach."
The Chanute native would go on to play basketball at Kansas Wesleyan University for a year before attending Neosho County Community College in 2010. The efficient shooter then transitioned to dribble at Cameron University in Lawton, Okla. in 2011. He coached the basketball team at Neosho as an assistant in 2013 to 2017, and was an assistant coach at Paris Junior College in Paris, Texas in 2017 before becoming a graduate assistant coach at the University of Texas El Paso last season.
With his own basketball playing beginning in Chanute for Crabtree before his journey branching off to coach around the nation, the scorer said he is excited to get things started with his new position.
"It feels really good. I mean obviously I'm excited to be back home and get the chance to give back to the community where I'm from," Crabtree said. "It (Chanute) gave so much to me, especially through the game of basketball. It feels really good to me."
While Crabtree said it’s amazing for him to come back to teach and coach in his hometown, he isn't content with just being back home; rather, he said he has some clear goals for the Blue Comet squad that went 12-9 before losing to Kansas City-Piper in the first round of the state playoffs in the 2018-19 season.
"I'm optimistic for the season," Crabtree said. "I just want to kind of build a culture and put in my stuff, the stuff that we want to run and just start building it and just continue off the success that Coach Ruark had. And see if we can retain that and rise a little more."
The way Crabtree intends to do that, he said, is to employ his “player's coach” strategy. He said he will use this strategy while continuing to coach hard and challenge the players every day.
Still, there could be a chance players won't take criticism from somebody they don't know. To make the transition easier for the players, Crabtree said he will forge relationships with each incoming player to make known that he is in it for the best interest of each and every player, and more importantly, the team. To help him hit the ground running, Crabtree said he will pick Ruark's brain.
Coaching strategy won't come into play until the season, but Crabtree's ability ‑ along with assistant coaches Jeremy Wire and Travis Tobin ‑ to meet and interact with the players has already started, as the first team meeting was this week, and the team's camp will begin next week. Crabtree said the team will play in several jamborees throughout the summer, too.
From one Chanute native to another, Frazell, 38, said the love of coaching grew when he decided to come back home 14 years ago as a local, gregarious athletic hero.
"I came back here to my hometown after college and started being an assistant coach really with no plans of being a head coach," Frazell said at CHS. "I think the more you are an assistant coach, you pick up bits and pieces of what you liked and maybe what you didn't like every head coach that you work with, and you start working on your mind thinking you can put together a pretty good program, and I think that's what made me interested over time."
And time is something Frazell has had a lot of when it comes to football. Heir to the great traditions of America's most popular sport, Frazell is a third generation physical education teacher and football coach. Frazell's dad, Kent Frazell, was the CHS football coach for 39 years, with the last year being in 2015.
Frazell played football under his dad as a linebacker and tight end at CHS from 1996 to 1999 ‑ earning All-SEK status in 1998 and 1999, as well as being a member of the All-State team in 1999 ‑ before taking his pigskin skills to Emporia State University in 1999 as a running back. The unbridled galloper graduated ESU in 2003, and in 2005 become a physical education teacher at Chanute Elementary, when he also became an assistant coach for the CHS football team the last 14 years. This year he also became a strength and conditioning and physical education teacher at CHS.
Frazell said he learned a lot from Don Simmons, Jason Feeback and Chris Shields, the former head coach Frazell will be replacing.
On top of improving upon a 4-5 record and a first round exit to Tonganoxie in 2018, Frazell said he wants to build up young men.
"I want to help kids be great, young men first of all, and help instill some qualities that are going to be important for the rest of their lives No. 1," Frazell said. "No. 2, I want to teach them that if you work hard over a long period of time, you can achieve goals and really improve, because that's really an important life skill that a lot of people lack. And the third goal is to create a team atmosphere and a family. And I think if those things fall into place, then the winning and losing will take care of itself."
Frazell said he wants to improve upon the winning and losing stats, and that will require avoiding the injury bug – a plague the team suffered in 2018. Frazell said he also wants to improve upon the number of athletes who play the game, as he said it's been a challenge to get additional student-athletes to come out and play on the gridiron.
The team has already started seven-on-seven drills as the 2019 season looms.