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TopSports.news to tackle challenge of picking county's Best of the Best prep coaches

Rick Peterson

By RICK PETERSON

TopSports.news

Last summer TopSports.news took on the task of honoring hundreds of Shawnee County's all-time great athletes in more than 20 sports as part of our Best of the Best project.

As rewarding as that project was, however, there was something missing -- the high school coaches, both head coaches and assistants past and present -- who have helped hundreds if not thousands of county athletes achieve athletic greatness.

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KevinBordewickWRWashburn Rural's Kevin Bordewick has coached nine Class 6A state championship teams in volleyball and girls basketball. [File photo/TSN]

CraigCoxBBCurrent Seaman basketball coach Craig Cox has led five teams to state championships in basketball and baseball, including the Class 5A basketball title this past season. [File photo/TSN]

Ben MesekeFormer Hayden coach Ben Meseke (right), talking with former Wildcat coach and athletic director Jerry Simecka, coached Hayden to 12 state titles in basketball and cross country. [File photo/TSN

BrendaHoladayBrenda Holaday coached Washburn Rural to three Class 6A state softball championships before moving on to a successful career at Washburn University. [Photo courtesy of Washburn Athletics]

This summer we will try to correct that ommision, with TopSports.news planning to publish Best of the Best coaches lists in 14 different sports.

As was the case a year ago, TSN will rely heavily on our readers for their input in rating the best coaches in the history of the county.

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Local softball icon Holaday reflects on what Title IX has meant to women's sports

Rick Peterson

EDITOR'S NOTE: TopSports.news writer Rick Peterson recently sat down with highly-successful high school and college softball coach Brenda Holaday to discuss the far-reaching benefits of Title IX, which was signed into law 50 years ago, on June 23, 1972. Holaday talked about how far women's sports have come and how far they can go in the future.

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By RICK PETERSON

TopSports.news

Brenda Holaday has had a bird's eye view of what Title IX legislation has meant to female athletes not only in Kansas, but across the United States.

BrendaHoladayHighly-successful softball coach Brenda Holaday has seen first hand how far women's sports have progressed since Title IX went into law 50 years ago. [The Washburn Review]

Holaday has been a highly-successful softball coach at the high school and NCAA Division II level for more than four decades as well as a high school and college athlete.

And while the current Washburn University and former Washburn Rural coach is immensely proud of how far women's sports have progressed over the past 50 years, she knows there's still progress that can be made in years to come.

"It's come a long ways,'' Holaday said. "It's got a ways to go for sure, but I think first and foremost what happened along with Title IX, is those opportunities allowed female athletes to get better. When it started out, female athletes weren't in the weight room, they didn't have the best coaches, they weren't doing anything offseason, whereas a lot of the men's sports were.

"Then all of a sudden, they started letting females in the weight room or some semblance of a weight room for them and we started realizing these female athletes were much more capable than we thought they were and at the same time they were getting more opportunities.''

After playing softball three seasons at Kansas State, Holaday started her coaching career at Wabaunsee, then led Washburn Rural to three Class 6A state championships before leading Washburn University's softball program to multiple MIAA regular-season titles and NCAA Tournament appearances over her first six seasons with the Ichabods.

But Holaday's first experiences with the impact of Title IX came in the mid-1970s as a student-athlete at Jackson Heights High School.

"I remember when I was at Jackson Heights we got our first male coach,'' Holaday said. "Kenny Thomas became the women's basketball coach and I can remember I was a freshman coming in and we won state and Grand State with him. He'd always coached boys and I can remember the reaction of the boys in our school and parents to how hard he was on females and I think my memory of that is that it was kind of that aha moment for everybody to go, 'You know what, these girls can be coached just as hard as boys, these girls can be worked just as hard as boys, they can train just as hard, they can condition just as hard.'

"And I think that was happening at the same time some other opportunities were being created, so I think some of the explosion during that time was sort of two-fold.''

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