Heisserer has hands full at Oran with two fall sports

Saturday, August 18, 2007
Members of the Chaffee girls cross country team stretched in the high school gymnasium after practice Friday. This is the first year for the girls cross country program. (AARON EISENHAUER ~aeisenhauer@semissourian.com)

The coach returned to her alma mater to lead the volleyball and softball programs.

Oran's Sara Heisserer will be pulling double duty in coaching. Not this school year, this fall.

Heisserer, in her first year at her alma mater, will guide both the Oran volleyball and softball teams this season.

The school district in March switched softball from spring to fall, which is when the Missouri State High School Activities Association conducts its playoff series.

"Right now, I'm enjoying it," Heisserer said Thursday. "I've been very busy. But today was just the first day of school; we'll see how next week goes."

Heisserer said she ran back-to-back practices Thursday after school.

And she's not the only one pulling double duty this fall. Ten of her 17 softball players also play volleyball.

"For the last week and a half, we had softball practice in the morning until about 10, and then the volleyball players came back in the afternoon," she said.

Heisserer is assisted in softball by Larry Boshell, the former girls basketball coach who also assists in baseball.

Heisserer, a graduate of Williams Baptist in Walnut Ridge, Ark., spent the last two years at Chaffee as the volleyball coach and a basketball assistant.

"I was real excited when this came open," she said of the chance to go back to Oran.

The Eagles will play nine regular-season softball games -- including just one against a district foe, Delta -- and also will play in the Notre Dame tournament next weekend.

"They took our volleyball schedule and kind of worked around it," Heisserer said.

Changes at Chaffee

Chaffee High School also added a sport to its fall offerings -- girls cross country.

Travis Calkins directs the first-year team, but the young group -- seven of the nine runners are freshmen or sophomores and none is a senior -- has experience.

"The last couple of years, we've had a group that has been running a lot of 5Ks," Calkins said. "We thought maybe we should be do cross country. It's a small group but a very good group."

Chaffee also has a new softball coach with Shawn Powderly taking the helm.

The school is not offering volleyball this year, and the addition of cross country for girls only leaves the school with four programs each for boys and girls.

Football schedule change

Chaffee did pick up a football game for Week 4.

After winning at Rector (Ark.) last year during a 3-7 season, Rector declined making the return trip this fall, Chaffee coach Charlie Vickery said. Rector was 0-9 in 2005 and 0-10 last year after not fielding a team in 2004.

Chaffee was able to pick up Walnut Ridge (Ark.) on a one-year contract, putting the Red Devils on the road into Arkansas again on Sept. 21.

Softball schedule change

Jackson added a softball game for 4 p.m. Thursday at home against Kennett. The Indians, a Class 4 district runner-up last year, open the season Monday at Chaffee.

Oak Ridge hiring

Oak Ridge filled its boys basketball coaching vacancy, created when John Martin returned to Jackson to be the athletic director, by hiring Mark Verticchio. Last year, Verticchio coached the girls basketball team at Mark Twain High School, leading the squad to 19 wins and the program's first state quarterfinal berth before losing to Blair Oaks despite an injury to the conference player of the year.

Verticchio resigned after his two-year stint in March in what was reportedly a rough separation.

Verticchio was quoted in the Quincy (Ill.) Herald-Whig, which named him that area's girls coach of the year, as saying, "After the season we had, I'm not going to go in and fight for my job. ... Sometimes, in order to build a program, you've got to upset people. I was under the notion that winning would hide some of the discontent, but I don't think that's the case anymore. I don't apologize for anything as far as the way I or my coaching staff treated anyone."

Prior to coaching at Mark Twain, Verticchio spent five seasons at Louisiana, taking a girls program that was 1-24 in 2000-01 to 12-14 the following year and then three straight winning seasons.

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