A familiar face has assumed the role as the new Chanute High School baseball coach.
Chanute USD 413 School Board voted in late June to hire Kurt Sizemore — the already CHS assistant baseball coach the last two years — as the new head coach to lead the way heading into the 2019-2020 season. Nate Peter and Ryan Ortiz will be CHS’s assistant baseball coaches.
The interview process took place right after the Blue Comets returned from the state tournament in late May, when CHS lost to Buhler High School in the Kansas state playoffs.
Sizemore, 34, was a part of this team as an assistant. And with the experience level of playing and coaching baseball — combined with Sizemore’s familiarity with coaching the Blue Comets — the school ultimately made a prudent decision, choosing Sizemore, who will be replacing former head coach Zack Murry after four seasons. Murry has taken an assistant principal and athletic director position at CHS.
The social studies teacher for grades 10-12 at CHS has lived in the Chanute area for all but 10 years of his life. Graduating from Altoona-Midway High School in 2003 as a multi-sport athlete — including playing baseball, basketball and football — Sizemore attended Neosho County Community College and Kansas State University, where he majored in secondary education.
Embarking on a new professional journey, Sizemore was employed as a teacher at Blue Valley Randolph from 2008 to 2013 teaching grades 7-12 social studies, while also coaching basketball and football; he went on to teach social studies at Neodesha High School from 2014 to 2017 while coaching the same sports: basketball and football. While his love for baseball never wavered, these schools didn’t have baseball programs at the time, so while teaching and coaching at th e Kansas schools, he coached in Chanute Babe Ruth Baseball in 2014 to 2015.
And of course, he became the assistant coach at CHS in 2017, assisting Murry. The coaching vacancy became available just two years later, and Sizemore said there was a reason why he was interested in the coaching vacancy.
“As far as just going into coaching, I wanted to give back,” Sizemore said. “I played a lot of sports growing up, so I wanted to kind of take on that role and become involved in the game, and help kids as much as possible. As far as stepping into the head coaching role, I want to continue the success we had up to this point, and I know that Chanute has a really good youth program right now, and I know that we can parlay that into really great success.”
Murry has led the Blue Comets to four auspicious years, including two state tournaments in his four years of coaching, and Sizemore said he will take culture already established and transition that into his own spin.
Coaches who have had a major influence on Sizemore include his Blue Valley Randolph High School coach in Brian Buchanan, as well as Dave Peter and Matt Koester, who both coached in Chanute’s American Legion baseball program when Sizemore played. Other coaches who played huge roles on Sizemore are Don Potter, John Black — two coaches from Neodesha — and CHS football coach Chris Shields.
“Obviously as an assistant coach, you have mentors and past coaches that kind of shape and mold you — grab a little from each coach up to that point and understand that there is certain ways you want to do things. As far as the transition from coach Murry, I’m going to do a lot of the same things we have always done, but I’ll put my own spin on it. There will be a few different philosophies in certain situations that will change. That’s pretty normal.”
What’s also normal for any successful person is a support system. Murry will not be the head coach for the baseball team anymore, but as the new athletic director as of May, Sizemore said Murry will certainly be in his ear. And with the seamless transition, Murry said he has the utmost confidence in Sizemore getting the job done.
“I’m very confident,” Murry said of his colleague. “I love the staff we have in place. We have three guys who all come from the same tree and care about our student-athletes. I am excited for the future of Chanute baseball.”
Murry’s presence will be felt, but Sizemore, of course, will have his own goals heading into the 2019-2020 season.
Sizemore said he wants to get the incoming players in tuned with his culture, while holding the players accountable.
This, he said, should transition into winning tendencies, and hopefully a second consecutive state playoff appearance in 2020.
Right now in the summer, Sizemore is throwing batting practice to any incoming CHS baseball player. Several of the athletes are playing in the American Legion baseball summer league.
“We just go to a cage; a lot of times we use the cage at Katy (Park) or we use this cage out at the college (NCCC),” Sizemore commented.