The official hiring of Carrie Minton as girls’ head basketball coach at Great Bend High School is imminent — pending USD 428 school board approval.
GBHS athletic director David Meter has confirmed that Minton — the former GBHS and Barton Community College athlete and current Lady Panthers’ head softball coach — will replace Jason Tatkenhorst, who left after 12 seasons to accept the same position at Basehor-Linwood.
“She’s been the head coach for softball the last two years and we kind of saw what she’s done with that program,” Meter said of Minton’s 34-10 softball record with the Lady Panthers, which includes back-to-back 17-5 seasons.
“I’m excited about it. She’s gotten the young girls to work together as a group and just her leadership skills … I have always been impressed with that. She works with the athletes and the parents quite well.”
Meter said he considered bringing someone in from the outside, but after reviewing applications, he came to the realization that one of the most qualified applicants was already on the school’s payroll.
“We’ve kept it within,” he said, “and we’re really happy about that.”
Minton says she welcomes the opportunity to be a dual head coach, even though the basketball season ends in March and softball drills will be getting under way at the same time.
“I’m sure it will be a challenge, especially in the first year, going from one sport to another,” Minton said. “But having had the softball team the past couple years, I kind of know what to expect at the start of that season and we have a great coaching staff in place in the softball program.”
Building strong relationships within her program has been one of Minton’s calling cards.
“I think one of the biggest keys to being successful is to have a good relationship with your athletes and I feel, outside of the playing field, they’re great young ladies to work with and I feel very fortunate,” Minton said.
“I think it will be nice that I have built a relationship with some of the girls who will also be in basketball, as well, so it will be huge factor in making a smooth transition.”
Moving to Great Bend from Pratt after her freshman year of high school, the former Carrie Koehler played basketball for the Lady Panthers for three seasons, including her sophomore year where they advanced to the state tournament.
After graduating from GBHS in 1995, she played basketball for one year at Seward County Community College in Liberal before transferring to Barton for her sophomore season.
“I transferred to Barton and that’s where I tore my knee up,” she said.
After bouncing back to play college tennis at the University of Nebraska-Kearney (1997-99), her first coaching experience came with the Lady Panthers’ basketball program, where she was an assistant for one year for Chad Higgins (1999-2000).
“Coach Tatkenhorst was hired when Coach Higgins left and I was an assistant coach (for Tatkenhorst) for four years (2000-04),” she said.
Minton and her husband, Mike, moved to Manhattan in 2004-05, where she was head girls’ basketball coach at nearby Alma-Wabaunsee.
The Mintons returned to Great Bend in 2005-06, where she was a women’s basketball assistant under former coach Lane Lord at Barton.
“The last four years have been the only years that that I have not coached basketball,” Minton said. “After I left Barton, I went to Ellinwood High School and I was a girls’ basketball assistant coach over there (2005-06 and 2006-07).
“Having been out of basketball for the last couple of years, I’ve always wanted to get back into coaching basketball and I really didn’t anticipate it to be now or this soon, but when the opportunity arose, it was something I felt like I was interested in and we just went from there.”