Phillips set for new role serving on KSHSAA board of directors
Holton school board member Bob Phillips has a long history with high school athletics, having served as a coach in some capacity during his 27 years of teaching in the Holton school district and beyond.
Phillips has worn a lot of hats in his 38-year overall coaching history, whether it was helping start the wrestling program at Burlingame High School early in his career or donating his time to club wrestling as a coach and as a member of the USA Kansas wrestling executive board while at Holton.
Currently, Phillips is teaching and coaching (middle school football) at Shawnee Heights and it’s that continued commitment to athletics, along with a little bit of sheer curiosity, that has led the educator to his newest opportunity as a member of the Kansas State High School Activities Association board of directors.
“I’ve never really known what went on in that part of it and that was something that I’d like to find out more about. I just felt that was very interesting and I thought if I could be a part of that, that’d be great,” Phillips said.
A total of 75 members from multiple branches of education and government serve on the board of directors, helping KSHSAA in its goal to “communicate with policy-making bodies to influence decisions consistent with association principles and operational standards (as stated in the KSHSAA Handbook).”
Phillips was elected to fill a position vacated by one of the board of education representatives (David Kraft, LeRoy-Gridly) of congressional district two. Initially, Phillips said HHS Principal Rod Wittmer (a member of KSHSAA’s executive board) alerted him to the opening.
While Phillips said his history with athletics drew him in, it was something a lot more basic that made the decision for him to fill this role.
“A lot of times there are not enough individuals to donate their time to help,” Phillips said. “None of the jobs, like the school board or like on the Kansas wrestling executive board, none of these are paying jobs. I just feel like there are times people need to get involved.”
In his role as a member of the board of directors, Phillips will have a hand in helping make amendments to the rules and regulations for school-related activities around the state.
Sometimes those will be big changes, like the classification decision that recently split 4A into two divisions, and sometimes they will be small, like leniency this summer allowing schools to use district vehicles for travel pertaining to summer athletics.
No matter the change, though, Phillips sees his duty in the process being pretty simple.
“I think there’s a lot of things there that affect students and you always want to have a positive effect on students, not a negative effect,” Phillips said.
Being a coach for so many years allows Phillips to bring an important perspective to the position, too, he said, as there are currently several businessmen and administrators serving on the board who might not have that hands-on knowledge with the sports.
As a coach, Phillips noted there is always discussion about rule changes and what could be done better and he said he is excited to be on the other side now and see how the decisions on those changes are made.
Already, the new board of directors member noted some of his colleagues at Shawnee Heights have approached him about potential rule changes regarding the meet restrictions for track athletes. Phillips was quick to point out that for any discussion of that change to happen, those coaches would need to first make a presentation in front of the executive board.
While Phillips himself said he would potentially like to see grand state wrestling reinstated, there are no major changes he believes need to be made at this time, though he will sit down and take a closer look before his term officially starts. Phillips will begin his two-year term on the KSHSAA board of directors at the start of the 2015-2016 school year.
Having Wittmer already on the board is a resource Phillips plans to use to help him in this transition. While he feels confident in his athletic knowledge given his lengthy coaching history, he noted there is still some pressure taking on a job as a high profile board member and he just hopes to do the best he can.
“It seems like I’ve been around the block a few times. I’ve seen a lot of things and I think my experience in that will help out,” Phillips said. “I feel like it was a great honor to be selected. It’s something that I don’t think should be taken lightly. I just want to make sure I do the right thing.”