Four open coaching positions in the Soroco School District have been filled and two others are close to being hired for, meaning athletics director and football coach Steve Longwell can concentrate on getting ready for two-a-day practices.
Two of the most visual vacant jobs, the high school wrestling coach and boys basketball coach, are occupied by familiar faces.
Four-year assistant wrestling coach Doug Gates has taken over the high school program. Gates, who also is the head coach at the middle school and is instrumental in the peewee program, will bring some stability to the high school job.
"We've had four different head coaches in four years and I think we need to get something stable for the kids," Gates said, adding it's important to be consistent with coaching techniques, year in and year out.
Because of Gates' involvement with wrestling on all age levels in south Routt, he brings the unique aspect of working with the athletes from grade school to high school.
"I take them from whenever they want to start," he said.
Boys basketball coach Andy Johnson, who said he was leaving after last season because he was changing districts, will stay at his job.
"He just decided to stick around," Longwell said. The decision to stay will help continue the success of a program that made the playoffs last year, he added.
Two new cheerleading coaches, Debbie Koler and Barbie Bonfiglio, also were chosen.
Longwell has identified candidates for the middle school football and volleyball coaching positions, but nothing is final yet.
"We won't know for a couple of days," Longwell said, adding he feels optimistic about hiring for the positions.
When those jobs are filled, Longwell will have successfully hired more coaches than he ever has at one time.
"I was stressed out most of the summer, but it's starting to all come together," he said.
And it's coming together just in time for Longwell to start two-a-day football practices on Monday. But the team will be getting ready for a season unlike past ones.
This is will be the first year that Soroco football will be independent and the team will play primarily a junior varsity schedule. Longwell made the decision to drop out of the 1A Northwest Conference because Soroco's varsity squad is primarily made up of freshman and sophomores. He felt that if they played a normal varsity schedule it might discourage some of the younger athletes from going out for the team.
Three seniors are on the team: Brandon Himmerite, Brandon Gilleland and Matt Hayne.
"For the seniors, it's going out and having fun and doing things for themselves," Longwell said.