Eshbaugh ties loose ends as clock runs down to career
Chad Eshbaugh will have a new residence coaching basketball at Topeka West next season, but the former Eudora High basketball coach is trying to leave the program spotless for the next Cardinal occupant.
Eshbaugh, who resigned two weeks ago to take a position in his hometown, is running a camp in Eudora for first through eighth-graders. About 130 youngsters are in the camp.
Some EHS players will participate in the Mid America Youth Basketball tournament June 11-12 in Newton. Eshbaugh will drive players to the 102-team event. He will also help with area summer leagues.
Eshbaugh said he's trying to leave the program in good shape.
"I'm just getting everything going in the right direction," Eshbaugh said. "I'll back off at the end of the month."
Incoming senior Wes Hinman said that his former coach has already done enough work for the program.
"It's like he feels bad for leaving, but he shouldn't at all," Hinman said. "He's organized a lot. It's a nice gesture."
Hinman said Eshbaugh announced his decision to leave in a team meeting two weeks ago.
"It was a terrible shock; no one expected it," Hinman said. "He is a great coach who pushed us to our limits toward success."
Eshbaugh's decision came with multiple choices. A 1991 Seaman graduate and a 1996 Washburn grad, Eshbaugh saw three basketball coaching vacancies in Topeka Hayden, Seaman and Topeka West. Eshbaugh wanted to be back in his hometown but decided not to pursue a job at his alma mater.
"I considered the Seaman job, but it's tough to go home," Eshbaugh said. "I had mixed emotions."
West and Seaman will square off in the Chargers' second game next season. The two schools rarely played each other when Eshbaugh was in high school, so he's learning about the school and its traditions. The Chargers are in the I-70 League; the Vikings are in the Centennial League.
Eshbaugh could have pursued another city school, but the idea of coaching at 4A Hayden never crossed his mind.
"There's not another job in Kansas in 4A better than Eudora," Eshbaugh said. "I wouldn't consider any other."
Eshbaugh now moves to the 5A ranks for a sizable rebuilding task. Topeka West went 1-20 last year in Charger coach John Oestreich's 20th season at the school. He resigned in early April.
Eshbaugh said he knew it would be a difficult but achievable task.
"I understood before I took the job it would be a rebuilding effort," Eshbaugh said.
The effort, in Eshbaugh's words, is similar to his first year at EHS. Although the Cardinals won more than one game before Eshbaugh's arrival, EHS wasn't traditionally successful.
The next EHS coach will have a full cupboard. A slew of seniors, including Hinman and two other senior starters, will be leading the Cardinals next season. But having someone else call the shots from the bench will be strange, Hinman said.
"It will be a major adjustment," Hinman said. "Hopefully the next coach doesn't come in and turn it all around. We'll just have to see what happens."
Hinman also said the school and the town didn't only lose a good coach.
"He's a great person. Eudora's going to miss him," he said.