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Girls' hoops

Pennington resigns post as Mid-Prairie's girls' basketball coach

By Travis J. Brown, Journal Sports Editor | Apr 24, 2013
Courtesy of: Tim Groff, The Kalona News Marc Pennington coaches the Mid-Prairie girls' basketball team during a game inside Tim Grady Gymnasium this past season. After leading the Golden Hawks to an 18-8 record and their first trip to the state basketball tournament since 2002, Pennington has resigned his position to become the new principal at Mid-Prairie Middle School.

WELLMAN — After coaching the Mid-Prairie girls’ basketball team for eight seasons, Marc Pennington announced on Tuesday morning that he will be resigning his post to become the principal of the Mid-Prairie Middle School in the fall.

“It’s a good move for my family and myself,” Pennington said this morning. “I’ve coached for 15 years, and I loved it, but it’s time for a new challenge. I’m glad it’s here at Mid-Prairie. I’m really appreciative for the opportunity and excited to get to work.”

Pennington has been teaching special education at Mid-Prairie High School for the past nine years, but will graduate from the University of Iowa with a degree in education administration in May. The timing was perfect for him to step into an administrative role.

“I’ve been working on my degree for 2½ years, and I knew once I got done with that, I’d want to look for a new position,” Pennington said. “When [middle school principal] Nancy Hurd announced her retirement, the timing was good. Ten years ago, I never thought I’d be going toward administration, but I’ve been lucky here that Mr. [Gerry] Beeler has involved me in a lot of administrative duties, and I’ve enjoyed that.”

By accepting the position as the principal at Mid-Prairie Middle School, Pennington was forced to vacate his post as the Golden Hawks’ girls’ basketball coach. Many schools have rules in place that forbid administrators to coach.

Pennington compiled a record of 94-93 in eight seasons, leading the Golden Hawks to a share of the Cedar Valley Conference championship in 2012 and to the Class 3A state basketball tournament this past season. Mid-Prairie finished 18-8 this past season, and Pennington was named the All-Golden Triangle News Service small-schools Coach of the Year.

“The last few years have been the best coaching years I’ve ever had in terms of having fun doing it,” Pennington said. “I’m very happy with what we accomplished, and there’s also solid footing for whoever takes over.”

But Pennington leaves behind some big shoes to fill.

“He’s done a great job,” Mid-Prairie Athletic Director Steve Hollan said. “When he took over that program, it had some issues with kids [not] coming out. The numbers were low when he took over, and the winning percentage when he took over was tough. He put a lot of time and energy into the program and brought it up to a level that was state competition level. Mid-Prairie was a team that had a target on its back every time it took the floor the last couple of years.”

The search for a new girls’ basketball coach began yesterday when Hollan posted the job opening. He said that even though the Golden Hawks will lose nine seniors from this year’s state tournament team, including all five starters, the job is a very appealing one for potential applicants.

“They’re coming into a program that’s been built,” Hollan said. “The program has had success, and hopefully they can build on it. Our JV and fresh/soph teams were both very good with some great records. We have some younger girls who are ready to step up and fill those shoes. I feel we’re going to be a very good program for years to come, so I think it’s a very attractive job for people to apply for.”

Pennington said it was tough to walk away from his team and to leave the coaching profession.

“I’ll miss the relationships I have with the kids,” he said. “That’s my favorite part of the job. I’ll miss the day-to-day interactions with the kids and I’ll miss those relationships. But I’ll form those relationships with the middle school kids in a different role. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Hollan feels that Pennington will be a great fit at Mid-Prairie Middle School.

“As an athletic director, I wish him luck in his next endeavor,” Hollan said. “He’s been a great teacher at the high school and a great coach, and he has great relationships with kids, so I think he’ll do a great job as the middle school principal. I would drop anything to help him at any time. He’s a great guy, and I appreciate what he’s done for Mid-Prairie High School and the girls’ basketball program over the years.”

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