KCKCC coach humbled by 2014 WCBA awards ceremony

A photo with Connecticut coach legend Geno Auriemma was one of the highlights of KCKCC’s Valerie Stambersky during her trip to the women’s Final Four where she was one of three nominees for community college Coach of the Year – and Auriemma’s U-Conn team won a record ninth national championship. (KCKCC photo by Damian Stambersky)

by Alan Hoskins

It was a day Kansas City Kansas Community College women’s basketball coach Valerie Stambersky will never forget.

A photo with Connecticut Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma. Sharing the spotlight with Notre Dame Coach of the Year Muffet McGraw. Recognition as one of three community college Coach of the Year nominees.

“It’s such a huge, huge honor and so humbling. I really didn’t feel I deserved to be in the same room with some of the people and what they had done,” said Stambersky of the 30th annual convention of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) held Monday in the Broadway Ballroom of the Omni Nashville Hotel, site of the NCAA Women’s Final Four.

Trenia Tillis Jones, who took Tyler Junior College from an 11-19 record in 2013 to a 30-6 season, national tournament appearance and No. 11 national ranking in 2014, was named Russell Athletic-WBCA Community College Coach of the Year award over Stambersky and Ned Mircetic of Ventura College, the Coach of the Year in 2009.

In her 15th year at KCKCC, Stambersky took the Lady Blue Devils from a 10-21 record in 2013 to a 24-8 mark in 2014 with six of the eight losses coming to teams ranked in the Top Five in Division II.

“If I had won, it would not have been what I did but a tribute to my staff and the players for what they did throughout the season,” Stambersky said.

This year’s award was especially special because it is the Pat Summit Award named in honor of the winningest basketball coach (men’s or women’s) in NCAA Division I history with 1,098 career victories. Summit stepped down as head coach in April 2012 after leading Tennessee to eight NCAA Division I national championships. She was named Division I national coach of the year three times.

Stambersky and all other nominees in six coaching levels (NCAA Division I, II and II, NAIA, community college and high school) were introduced via video to a crowd of more than 400 at the awards ceremony. Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw repeated as NCAA Division I Coach of the Year after leading the Irish to an unbeaten season until losing to U-Conn and Auriemma in the championship game Tuesday night.

Both McGraw and Auriemma were interviewed at a reception prior to the awards ceremony Monday night.

In addition to mingling with many of the top women’s coaches in the nation at the reception, Stambersky was able to reunite with her coach at Ferris State University, Tracy Dorrow, now head coach at Valparaiso, and a former player, Brittany Graham, current assistant coach at Berry College.

Stambersky was accompanied by her husband, KCKCC assistant baseball coach Damian Stambersky, and their two children, Taylor and Tyler.

Looking back, Stambersky said it was the highlight of her coaching career – and motivation for next season. “You get a taste of what it’s like and you want to be in that situation of winning next year,” she said.

Child dies in crash on Leavenworth Road

A child died after a crash Wednesday night at 63rd and Leavenworth Road in Kansas City, Kan.

A traffic stop by Kansas City, Kan., police preceded the incident.

Police pulled over a car on 63rd Street, just north of Parallel Parkway, according to Kansas Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Howard Dickinson. The highway patrol handled the investigation but was not involved in the traffic stop or incident.

He said the driver who was stopped, Tyrone Murphy Jr., then took off in the vehicle headed north on 63rd, and the police then followed.

According to the Kansas Highway Patrol trooper’s crash log, a Chevy Impala was northbound on 63rd about 8:35 p.m. Wednesday when it failed to stop at a red traffic light at Leavenworth Road.

It struck a Dodge Caravan that was eastbound on Leavenworth Road, going through the intersection, killing a girl inside the van.

Jasmine Rodriguez, 7, of Kansas City, Kan., was taken to the hospital, where she later was pronounced dead, according to the trooper’s report.

Dickinson said it was a T-Bone crash, with the impact on the passenger side of the van where the children were sitting. They were properly restrained by safety restraints, he said.

It may have been difficult for the driver of the minivan to see anything coming because of the houses near the corner.

Also injured and taken to the hospital were Brian Rodriguez, 7, Kansas City, Kan.; Jesus G. Rodriguez, 9, Kansas City, Kan.; and the driver of the van, Jacqueline, 35, Kansas City, Kan.

Murphy, 27, of Kansas City, Kan., the driver of the Impala, also was injured, according to the report.

Dickinson said that in fatal crashes, a full drug and alcohol screening will be taken, and lab results will be available later.

Dickinson pointed out that it is the police officers’ job to make traffic stops, and officers did not start the chase. It was the decision of the person being stopped to run, he said.

According to the Wyandotte County Jail log, Murphy has been booked into the Wyandotte County Jail.

The jail log lists several charges, including involuntary manslaughter in the commission of another crime;  aggravated battery, interference with law enforcement officer, fleeing or eluding a law enforcement officer with five or more moving violations, possession of drugs, and numerous other traffic citations such as reckless driving, speeding and failure to wear a seat belt.

KCKCC names men’s assistant soccer coach

Burke Slusher (KCKCC photo)

by Alan Hoskins  

As the new assistant men’s coach, Burke Slusher brings more than 20 years of coaching and playing experience to the Kansas City Kansas Community College soccer program.

The assistant to head coach Ruben Rodriguez, Slusher comes to KCKCC after serving as the assistant coach for men and women at William Jewell College.

“I played with Tait Einerson (KCKCC women’s assistant coach) and was familiar with Coach Rodriguez reputation in coaching so it was an easy decision to come here,” Slusher said. “Also, everyone wants the program to go in the right direction.”

A native of the Kansas City area, Slusher grew up in the northland, attending and playing at North Kansas City High School.  He played collegiate soccer for Missouri State University (formerly Southwest Missouri State University).

Slusher coached youth with the KC Pace soccer club, winning Missouri state championships in 2005 and 2007, and served as an associate head coach and director of goalkeeping for the Kansas City Brass PDL from 2002-2013.

In addition, Slusher has been a coach for the Wizards youth training program, Missouri ODP identification camps, William Jewell goalkeeping camp director, and a talent evaluator for Sporting KC and FC Kansas City open tryouts.