After 10 seasons as the head coach for the Leavenworth Pioneers baseball, Joe Allison is saying goodbye.
The Leavenworth native announced on Twitter that he will be taking the head coach position for Blue Valley West baseball. Allison will also be taking a P.E. position for the school.
Allison took over the baseball program in 2009 and helped strengthen the team by the time he left. In his first season, the team only won a single game. By 2011, they won the regional championship. The 2011 season is his favorite memory as the coach with the team.
Allison feels like the community he is from helped shape him into who he was as a coach for the Pioneers.
“I was born and raised here,” Allison said. “I owe everything that I am to the community. I have had several mentors from teachers and coaches to just parents that helped raise me. It has been an awesome time here in Leavenworth.”
After Allison graduated from Leavenworth High in 1999, he went to play football and baseball in college. In 2005, he returned to student teach. Allison began teaching the next year and soon became the baseball coach. Allison said he couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity than to teach in the district he grew up in.
Allison said the decision was tough to make.
“I love this place,” Allison said. “It wasn’t that I was looking for a new opportunity someplace because my current situation was bad. It was just me being contacted on behalf of some people that knew me and thought I might like an opportunity at a bigger school with different resources. I have no regrets, but at the same time it was a real tough decision.”
The thing that he will miss the most is the players. Despite the roadblocks along the way, Allison mentioned how the constant was the players and their positives
One of the hard parts for Allison leaving is just leaving all the progress he built up.
The high school grew, as did the youth program. When Allison first got involved, there were only three teams and about 35 kids. Now, there are 10 teams and 120 players.
He feels like he is leaving the program better than he left it. Whether it is Allison’s assistant Justin Bode, or someone else brought in, Allison hopes the successor can keep it going, and even take it to the next level.
Allison will not be done in the area though, his family plans to stay in the area for now and Allison will just travel to Blue Valley West each day, which can be a 45 minute to an hour drive depending on traffic.
He also will still be involved with next summer’s Junior Pioneers and will help transition someone to take over in the summer of 2020.
Leavenworth athletic director James Vanek had nothing but positive statements about the outgoing coach.
“Joes has done a lot for baseball, not only at the high school but in the community through his work with the Junior Pioneers baseball club,” Vanek said. “Through this work, he has aided in supporting over 100 kids to be a part of a baseball club and learn how to play the sport. At LHS, I have watched his teams compete at a high level against some of the best baseball teams in the state. I would like to thank Joe for all of his work here and wish him the best of luck at his new school.”
Allison is thankful for his time in the community.
“I know they look at me as a baseball coach,” Allison said. “But first and foremost, I'm a product of them, so whether it may be just the general town members, the military folks that move in, all the teachers and administrators that helped raise me throughout the school system, to all the mentors that I've met along the way. Whether it be a police officer, a firefighter, my mom worked at Cushing Hospital forever, so everybody that was there, I would just like to tell them thank you. I wouldn't be where I am. I wouldn't have the opportunities that happen with them."