2017 Coach of the Year Finalists
Van Buren, softball
In his first season helming the team, Childress made history with Van Buren softball. The Bulldogs won the first state championship in program history, and the first state title for the school since 1992. Van Buren finished 21-5 and defeated Clopton in the fall’s Class 1 title matchup.
Oran, boys basketball
The longtime Eagles headman helped his team get over the hump and make a surprising run to a state championship — the first state title win in program history. After finishing as the bridesmaid in its district the past few years, Oran not only won a district title but also made it to the Class 2 final four, where the Eagles defeated Sacred Heart and Crane to lift the trophy.
Bell City, baseball
Success is no stranger to Simpher and his Cubs, but the skipper helped his program achieve the often-difficult task of staying on top once it got there. Bell City won the Class 1 state title — defeating Wellsville 10-0 in five innings in the finale — for a third straight season, becoming just the seventh team in Missouri to ever accomplish that feat, and second in Class 1. It may have been Simpher’s biggest challenge, as the small-school Cubs (24-6) lost four senior starters from the previous year.
Poplar Bluff, baseball & boy’s soccer
Edwards coaches two sports for the Mules, but his most impressive achievement this year came in the spring. The coach not only helped the Poplar Bluff baseball team erase the past two years of disappointment in the district postseason, he also took it to new heights — a 2-1 win over Rockwood Heights in a Class 5 sectional earned the Mules their first ever state quarterfinal berth. Poplar Bluff finished 21-6 on the season.
Notre Dame, girls soccer
Schweain has helped the Bulldogs to solid success, but that was elevated to a new level this spring. Heading up a team that lost nine seniors and half of its starting lineup, the coach led Notre Dame girls soccer to a place it had never been before — lifting a state championship trophy. The Bulldogs went 23-1 on the season — putting up one of the best defensive campaigns in school history — and avenged its only loss of the year by defeating Springfield Catholic in a dramatic 2-1 extra-time result in the Class 2 state championship.