Archive for Thursday, June 17, 2004

Longtime Eudora sports staple Hanna leaving for Texas

June 17, 2004

July 19 will mark the end of an era in Eudora. That's the day that a Cardinal coaching icon packs up the truck and move to a small town outside Lubbock, Texas.
In the fall, coach Joe Hanna and his wife, Barbara, lost their daughter in a car accident. She left behind a husband and a nine-month old daughter.
It wasn't long before Hanna and his wife made the decision to leave their home of more than 30 years and head south to help raise their granddaughter.
"That's the major factor -- it wasn't because I wanted to leave," Hanna said. "I like (Eudora), and it's been very good to me.
"It's bittersweet leaving friends. I've just got to take care of business, and that's what I'm doing."
Hanna joined the Cardinal athletic department in 1969 as a track and field coach. He joined the football team the following school year.
By 1982 he was the head football coach, a position he held until 1987. He helped start the middle school program a few years later.
All the while, Hanna maintained his duties with the track and field team.
League football titles in 1970 and 1972 highlighted his early years.
"I was 23 years old when we first won league," Hanna said. "That was definitely exciting.
"I was the line coach, and I didn't know that much about football. The kids probably knew more about football than I did."
And more recently, Hanna has seen the playoff runs of 1983 and 2002.
"Playing Fort Scott two years ago is definitely a highlight --being in the big time and being that close to a state championship," Hanna said.
Eudora's recent coming-of-age -- everything from the recent successes on the field to the fields of play themselves -- makes it even harder for the tenured talent to leave.
"We've been really hot lately, and I think we'll stay that way too," Hanna said. "We've got kids with the desire, and we've got a great head coach. Coach (Aaron) Barnett got it started, and coach (Gregg) Webb is getting us to another level.
"And just look at that new school out there. We've waited all these years for it, and I'm going to miss that a lot."
Hanna's enthusiasm is still plainly evident after all these years. It's the rejuvenating effects of his students and players that deserve much of the credit -- and the kid inside that those relationships inspire.
"It's just being around the kids," Hanna said. "Teaching is a job, and it helps shape the future. Coaching is like cake and ice cream. It's not always good times, but there are a lot of good times.
"It's the lasting relationships. You get real close to the players and when you see them years later they still know who you are."
People remember great leaders. And that's what Hanna believed defined his coaching philosophy.
"I think kids have got to see the fire in your eyes," Hanna said. "If you tell them to go in a dark alley and whip everybody in it, they'll want to follow you."You should be a good role model and show the kids the way to win. If you show the heart and desire to win, they'll have it to."
That's how Hanna hoped to be remembered anyway.
"I want to be remembered as a good role model for the kids," Hanna said, "someone they can look up to and know that's the right way to do it."
Hanna has been doing it the right way at Eudora since before many of its teachers were born. But don't call Hanna an icon.
"I'm not an icon -- I'm just old, and I've been around a long time," Hanna said. "I've had a lot of good relationships with a lot of good people.
"I've had great relationships with the coaches; I always have. They are good guys to coach with."
Hanna's new home will be Plain View High School, about six miles outside of Lubbock. He'll have to negotiate about a: 45-minute drive from his home in Shallow Water every day.
Hanna will act as one of 12 math teachers on staff in a school that boasts nearly 1,400 students. But his time on the sidelines may have reached an end.
"My coaching career may be already over," Hanna said. "The school I'm going to is large, and they have their own system.
"But I'll probably teach another seven or eight years. It depends on health, and things tend to change. Plus, I still have some bills to pay too."
Future Hanna sightings back in Eudora can be expected.
"Oh, I'll be around," Hanna said. "They're not going to get rid of me that easy."

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