This year marks a couple of milestones for Great Bend High School head tennis coach Shannon Schartz.
Schartz, who has been coaching both girls and boys tennis at Great Bend for 34 years, was selected as Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year for the first time as a boys coach.
On top of that, Schartz will be inducted into the National High School Coaches Hall of Fame on July 24 at a conference in Fargo, N.D.
“It’s kind of exciting, actually,” Schartz said. “It’s really just a reflection of all the good kids I’ve had for the last 35 years or so.”
Schartz was selected as WAC Coach of the Year after the Panthers won the conference tournament.
“I haven’t won it as the boys’ coach,” Schartz said. “They started the coach of the year in 2007. I’ve won it a few times as the girls’ coach, though.”
The Panthers had their best season in school history, according to Schartz, finishing the season with seven first-place team finishes, three tournament sweeps and a WAC championship.
The Great Bend boys had an overall record of 64-51 in 2011, but they improved to 119-22 this season.
“I was looking back, we had basically the same team as last year,” Schartz said. “We had two new people on varsity. That much of an improvement is great.
“They put in the work all year, and this was the best overall record that they have ever had. We had more depth than we’ve ever had before.”
Schartz said he began coaching in 1974.
“I coached volleyball and girls’ basketball at Rossville High School,” Schartz said. “When I came back to Great Bend in 1976, they asked me to be the assistant coach for the freshman wrestling team. I coached girls’ basketball, track and volleyball at Roosevelt Junior High School.
“Then they had both the girls’ and boys’ head tennis coaches resign in 1978, and they asked if I would do it.”
Schartz was nominated for the National High School Coaches Hall of Fame by a co-worker.
“Jackie Cook from the high school told me that she nominated me at the beginning of the school year,” Schartz said. “That was when I found out about it. Then in October, they announced that I was going to be inducted.”
Schartz said that he owes this year’s success to his players’ drive to keep practicing.
“This group of boys just play tennis all year round,” Schartz said. “They play in summer tournaments. They’ve already started this summer. They travel to tournaments all summer long. I work with them a couple days a week over the summer, but they’re playing a lot more at their own court.”