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Austin Kendrick coaches during a game when he was an assistant at Parkview High School in Springfield, Missouri.

It took a lot for Austin Kendrick to decide to leave Parkview High School. It was his alma mater. He played baseball and basketball there. He returned to coach there after graduating from college. But he knew he made the right decision.

Kendrick is now the head coach at Reeds Spring High School, and he’s ready to see how his first season just 49 minutes down the road from Parkview will go.

Kendrick was primarily a baseball athlete throughout high school. He played competitively and was committed to Fort Scott Community College for the sport. It was his first love, and a sport he’ll always appreciate.

But just a few short weeks after graduating high school, Kendrick was diagnosed with testicular cancer. His college offers fell through, and a new plan had to be created. Kendrick instead went to Missouri State University, knowing he wanted to go into coaching after graduation.

“A lot of the people that helped me get through that time were my coaches, and I wanted to make sure that I had an opportunity to have an impact on these kids, like my coaches had on me,” Kendrick said.

Kendrick was an assistant baseball and basketball coach at Parkview. He learned under Bill Brown, who is now the head basketball coach at Lebanon High School, and Landon Cornish, the head coach at Parkview. He had opportunities to coach baseball, but he said nothing is close to what it’s like coaching basketball.

“Nothing beats Tuesday and Friday nights in the gym,” Kendrick said. “When you get a packed gym, and everybody’s going nuts, and you feel that electricity in the air — there’s just nothing that quite compares to that.”

With his experience under Brown and Cornish, Kendrick is used to coaching a high-paced game. Luckily at Reeds Spring, he’s got the right kind of players to implement that style of play.

“We have a lot of athletes that I feel like could kind of be unleashed a little bit,” Kendrick said. “I wouldn’t play this tempo if I didn’t have the athletes to do it. Plus, it makes the game fun for the kids to play.”

It’s a different style than what Reeds Spring has had in the past. Seniors Lance Hafer and Micah Asbill agreed the style is much different than what they are used to, but they are excited for what that means for the program.

“I feel like it fits our team better and the weapons we have,” Hafer said. “I think we’ll be able to play into that pretty well.”

The players made the job choice worth it in the end, but there were still so many aspects to Reeds Spring that Kendrick loved.

“Reeds Spring was always kind of a job I had circled,” Kendrick said. “During my interview, I just knew that this was a place I wanted to be. I’ve heard great things about the community and how much they feed into their sports and athletics and how much they care.”

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Kendrick is still looking forward to how that plays out. While the situations are not exactly alike, Kendrick knows what the athletes are going through — he knows what it feels like to lose your career at a moment’s notice.

Some of the athletes already experienced that with the abrupt end to this year’s football season due to quarantine orders.

“It’s a very similar story,” Kendrick said. “It’s something that I try to relay to them all the time. It’s something that they’ve really bought into, and it shows our practices and the way they’re approaching the season so far.”

The season started this week for the Wolves. They’re competing in the 60th Forsyth Tournament. Their first game at home is scheduled for Dec. 8 against Forsyth.

“I want to make people excited about coming to watch Reeds Spring basketball,” Kendrick said.

“It’s a very similar story,” Kendrick said. “It’s something that I try to relay to them all the time. It’s something that they’ve really bought into, and it shows in our practices and the way they’re approaching the season so far.”

The season started this week for the Wolves. They’re competing in the 60th Forsyth Tournament. Their first game at home is scheduled for Dec. 8 against Forsyth.

“I want to make people excited about coming to watch Reeds Spring basketball,” Kendrick said.

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