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Coach finds home at HHS

Sports editor

Robert Rempel is becoming comfortable in his first athletic director position.

The former Tabor College football player and 12-year Lyons High School teacher and coach, has found a home at Hillsboro High School.

“I’ve really enjoyed it,” Rempel said of his first month on the job. “There are always extra turns and things to learn.”

Rempel said his learning curve is more like a learning line that continues to go up. However, he knew it wasn’t going to be easy.

“I knew it would be a lot of work. I knew it would be a lot of time,” he said. “But I don’t think you can ever prepare yourself for actual work, or actual time. It’s always a little more than you think.”

The job duties of an athletic director require a lot of time outside the office attending activities and making sure they run smoothly.

“I’m there to make sure things don’t get out of hand,” Rempel said.

It also helps him to be around the athletes and students more, something he loved about being a teacher.

“I don’t really have the one-on-one too much anymore,” he said. “But one of my goals is to get to know everybody in the school. I’m working on it, but it takes time.”

The personable former coach should have no problem in doing just that, although it may take him a little longer than at Lyons.

As a teacher of freshmen, he got to know the students from day one.

As time goes on, Rempel doesn’t think it will be that hard.

“I mingle with them in the halls,” he said. “It’s a different way to get to know them.”

Growing up in Meade, a Mennonite town about 40 miles northeast of Liberal, Rempel knew of Tabor College.

There was a pipeline between the two towns, and Rempel said he knew many Meade graduates who went to Tabor.

“I was going to Tabor no matter what,” he said. “Football came up at the last minute.”

Rempel was recruited by then-head coach Dave Zumwalt, and ended up playing for three more coaches.

He enjoyed his athletic and academic experiences enough to know Hillsboro is a place he could raise his family, which includes his wife and children ages 7, 6, 4, and 1.

“All off a sudden the job came up, and everything’s worked out since then,” Rempel said.

What has really worked out for him so far is having the man who used be in his position as HHS’ principal.

Max Heinrichs, who was AD and assistant principal from 2001-07, took over the head principal job this fall.

Rempel said Heinrichs loves to hear his new ideas, and he appreciates the advice from the former AD.

“It’ been very beneficial,” Rempel said.

Rempel has had no problem adjusting to the office side of the job, considering his degree was in business administration, and he taught business for 12 years at Lyons.

He also edited football video, ran a golf tournament, and helped with designing programs while at the school.

What has been tough for him is being on the opposite side of the finances.

“It’s hard saying ‘no’,” Rempel said of monetary requests. “But sometimes it has to be done.”

Although not every second of the job is fun and games, Friday nights under lights can be.

Rempel was able to travel back to Lyons Sept. 28 for a match-up against his former school.

“I was looking forward to it,” he said.

The Trojans defeated the Lions on the gridiron 35-7.

He has many friends who were in the crowd and on the team and coaching staff.

“It was bittersweet,” Rempel said.

Some more “fun” could come Oct. 30 when the Trojan football team plays host to Marion.

More than likely the game will have playoff implications.

“I know a little bit about the rivalry,” Rempel said. “It’s good. I like a rivalry that stays on the field.”

As Rempel’s “learning line” continues to go up and eventually curves, he will become familiar with everything from the friendly rivalry to everyone’s name in the building.

He already knows names of many of the coaches in the Mid-Central Activities Association since Lyons is a member.

“I’ve been shaking hands with some of these guys after football games for 12 years,” Rempel said.

However, now he will be doing that as a member of the maroon and gold, and that is just fine for him.

Some people have asked him if he still bleeds Lyons blue, but his answer has always been the same.

“Nope, I’m maroon without question,” he said. “I miss seeing a lot of those people, but I’ve sure enjoyed it here.”

Last modified Oct. 15, 2008

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