The Shenandoah girls and boys track and field teams will share a coaching staff beginning this spring with Ty Ratliff as head coach.
The Shenandoah school board approved Ratliff’s modified contract and the contracts of his four assistants during a special meeting, Tuesday, May 26.
Ratliff has been the Shenandoah boys track and field coach for the last seven years while Jon Skillern recently retired after working with the girls program for the last 23 years. Shenandoah activities director Aaron Burdorf said this was the time to put the two programs together under one staff.
“It had been a discussion we had had with Ratliff,” said Burdorf, “and he was interested in doing that. We have seen other schools across the state do that and create positional or event coaches.”
Ratliff said it’s a good move to give the coaches more time to work with each athlete.
“This will utilize all of our coaches to the best of our abilities,” said Ratliff. “It’s a big bonus for four assistants plus me to be able to coach all the kids and use our strengths to maximize our time at practice.”
Ratliff and Skillern both had a single assistant last year and Ratliff said this move will be huge for the athletes.
“All of our athletes will benefit from this,” said Ratliff. “Being able to be accountable to a coach at all times at practice will be huge for maximizing what we can accomplish.”
Liz Skillern is the only other returning coach on staff. The girls head cross country coach at Shenandoah has also been an assistant under Ratliff on the boys team.
Current boys cross country coach Andy Campbell will also be an assistant, along with two newcomers to the district in William Flowers and Shenandoah graduate Logan Roberts, who are both starting as teachers this fall.
“Flowers comes to us as a new teacher from eastern Iowa,” said Burdorf. “He has been a girls track assistant since 2013. Roberts comes in with college running experience. He’s a new teacher as well. We’ll have a ton of experience on the whole staff that I think will benefit our kids a ton.”
Ratliff is excited to be part of this staff.
“Coach Skillern is coming back with me,” said Ratliff, “and adding Coach Campbell, who has been around the track and cross country programs here for years. He’s a phenomenal coach and has great knowledge in track and field. Roberts was a tremendous runner for me just a few years ago. He’s fresh out of college and running track at Morningside. He’ll bring a lot of excitement and knowledge. Flowers has been at Muscatine on the girls side of track doing a lot with the hurdles and jumps. I think we have put together a great staff that will hopefully take the program to new levels.”
That coaching experience will be able to do more event-specific work with their athletes.
“Before we had two boys coaches and two girls and 30-plus kids on each of those teams,” said Burdorf. “It was becoming harder for the head coach to work with individual groups on a daily basis. This creates a situation where the whole staff can work together to create plans and be very specific for a practice.”
Ratliff agrees, saying each coach will be able to focus on each athlete.
“In the past you might be trying to do three or four different things in a one-hour time frame to hit all the groups,” said Ratliff. “This will really free us up from having to bounce around and really hone in on what we need to work with the groups we’re each in charge of.”
Ratliff is also looking forward to keeping with the tradition that Jon Skillern has built with the girls program, saying Skillern developed a lot of good things and Ratliff looks forward to keeping that going.