By DAVID HUNTER
The Cannon Courier recently sat down with CCHS athletic director and boys' basketball coach Matt Rigsby to discuss the school year so far. Here is a lengthy question and answer session with him, and we thank him for his time for this article.
1. How excited is the CCHS athletic program about the start of the spring sports season?
"It is a great time, and it is hard to believe it is that time. March is here, and it is great to see kids practice on the tennis courts, around the baseball and softball fields around town. It is an exciting time.
2. Three new coaches at the high school level. What makes each of them a good fit for the school and their respective programs?
"All three care about the success of our athletes here at CCHS. All three are young energetic, relate awesomely with our kids in the classroom, and willing to get the job done to make our program as successful as possible."
3. Some of the expectations is to compete for a district title and beyond. Besides the obvious expectations. What are some other expectations for the spring sports this season and what will it take to achieve those goals?
"I am a big facilities guy. I want to see our facilities upgraded and maintained and taken care of. I give (Baseball) coach (Colin) Jones and his staff credit for what they have done to the baseball field. It is tremendous job of what they have done. The softball program is trying to do some work on their field. We have had some drained issues, and we got a load of dirt ready to help with that issue. Kids see those things and it brings a sense of pride to them and what they do for the program.
4. How much has Coach (Ronny) Burks meant to the athletic program, especially coaching two sports and with all of the other things he does for the athletic program?
"When you want to talk about the importance of our golf and tennis programs, you got to start with Coach Burks, because he created both of them. He took those undertakings upon himself years ago. We are very thankful for that for our kids to have that outlet to play golf and tennis. You got 20 kids playing tennis, physically active every day and that is a great thing."
5. What did you think of Coach (Jonathan) Odom's performance, especially his first year at the helm? And what improvements if any, do you want to make to prepare for the 2016-17 season?
"His staff did an excellent job with the program considering year one. I told him he should write a book when that season was over considering what they had to go through with injuries. There was a lot of adversity, they had to go through. I told him I did not envy him at times. His first year was a heck of a lot tougher than mine was as a head coach, but it grows you as a coach and as a team. It was great to see the girls play through the adversity and get some big wins."
6. What about the CCHS boys' basketball team this past season?
"With our bunch, coming out of this past season, you are running freshman and sophomore guards out there, who do not necessary understand the game at that point. Might have the physical tools to tell you they are ready, but at the end of the day on Friday nights, there is a learning curve, especially in a tough of a district we play in. You are learning every night. We could never get that consistency and gel where kids can play together. We hope to ret fly that issue come late in the year, and it carries over to the off-season."
7. You must be pretty excited on what the future holds on the basketball court?
"I am graduating four awesome seniors Briar Jakes, Bo Bryson, Austin Brock and Austin Martin. You take those four out and look for others to step up. That what truly makes each team unique and a different team from year to year. You also got a major year of growth and maturity from those freshmen and sophomore guards. The current juniors rising to seniors next year, I do not know if you expect a better attitude of willingness to lead. Maika Fonoti with his senior leadership coming into next season that is only going to make us better. If you cannot get behind a young man like him, you just do not have a pulse for athletics and to compete. We look for much better things in the season to come.
8. How special was this entire senior class for the school this school year?
"There is much to be said for kids playing multiple sports. Your high school years I believe is an opportunity for a young lady or man to experience a lot of positive things. What better way can you do that than athletics, and to play multiple sports, and to be coached in different ways and types and have to fit and gel in two different locker rooms. It only makes you a better overall rounded person, and we share our athletes at CCHS, and we should. It is very gratifying to watch kids when they step on campus as freshman, and watch them mature and grow and understand team concepts and the willingness to compete. I am extremely proud of this senior class. To see they have success on the field and court is very fun to watch.
9. How excited are you about the future in terms of the fall sports?
"With every season's end that means a new season is beginning. We want our fall sports to build off of what was accomplished and what was learned last year and take it into next season. It is a given now that Coach Larson is going to take his bunch to the state meet every year. What they do is tremendous, and the success they enjoy year in and year out they deserve. We are trying to strengthen our middle school programs, so the kids are more prepared when they get here.
10. What are some overall goals you have for the entire Cannon County athletic program both in the short and long term?
"We want kids to keep playing, and I am all about facilities and presentation and what we look like. What it looks like when opposing fans and teams come into our facilities. I want us to keep striving and improving those things. It would be great to be self-sufficient fiscally. Nobody would have to fund-raise, but it is what it is. We are forever grateful for the private people and businesses that around this county support us and our athletics program. We want to keep that relationship going, and we are grateful for them. We love relationships like that for our athletic program. That is a long term goal is stability in our coaching staff, credit Coach (Brittany) Cook for stepping up and coaching our softball program. We had that posted for two months, and we could not get anybody to bite on it and luckily she applied and took it over for us. Every successful program has to have stability with our coaches.
11. What will it take to compete in the district this spring season?
"We want to have a culture of winning and create a culture of winning. Reality tells you are not going to win every contest, but to have a culture of winning means going into that contest you wholeheartedly know it is going to happen due to your work ethic and deserving to do so.