Coach Paul Schmidt was recognized for his 60th year of coaching at halftime of the Andale High School boys’ basketball game on January 8. Schmidt’s career includes teaching math and physics as well as coaching. He retired from teaching in 1994, but has continued to coach.
Paul Schmidt began coaching and teaching in the fall of 1956 at Grinnell, KS High School, after serving a tour of duty in the US Army of Occupation in Germany. He was a head basketball coach for three years, a head football coach for two years, and a head track coach for 36 years. He served in the capacity of an assistant coach in basketball for 30 years and assistant football coach for 55 years. From 1962 to 2004 he was also the freshmen football coach. Schmidt taught mostly math and some physics classes for 38 years before retiring from the classroom in 1994. Thirty-two of those years were spent teaching in Andale High School. Throughout all of that time Coach Schmidt has always coached track – a total of 60 seasons, including 2016.
Apart from coaching, Schmidt served as President of the Renwick Teachers Association and designed the first salary schedule when USD 267 was organized in 1964. For eleven straight years he served as the chief negotiator for the Renwick teachers. Since Schmidt started out coaching three sports for $200, he was well aware that change was necessary. After explaining that bus drivers were making more money hauling teams to a game one night of the week than coaches working all week, it wasn’t hard to convince board members extra duties should be indexed. Despite some modification, the index remains today and has kept coaching salaries competitive.
When Schmidt was hired at Andale, the total coaching staff for the track program was Dwayne Puetz who was the head coach and Schmidt. The district had used its entire assistant coach budget with the $100 they paid Schmidt for football and the $100 they paid him for basketball. Schmidt was left with the option of donating his time to coach track. He jumped at the opportunity. Coach Puetz coached the runners and Schmidt coached the field events. That first year Andale managed to qualify two athletes for the State meet and even scored.
From that first handful of track and field athletes, Andale soon began to turn out the largest track squads in the area. As the numbers grew, the coaching staff grew and Schmidt’s coaching became limited to the three traditional throws, shot put, discus, and javelin. In 1970, on the strength of a strong and deep throwing contingent, Andale won its first League meet since 1948. The school records of that era in the three throws are still standing 42 years later.
In 1974 Schmidt assumed the duties of head boys’ track coach, just as Girls’ athletics were starting up. The ‘70s were heady times for all Andale sports with the Andale Girls reaching the finals in the first State Basketball Tournament for girls, and challenging for the top spot in the State Track meet. Andale football was on a roll and was eliminated from the playoffs three years in a row by the eventual State Champion Kapaun-Mt Carmel. The great athletes of this decade put Andale on the athletic map and marked the ascendancy of the Andale Boys’ Track Team to the status of a perennial State contender.
Throwing at Andale acquired a new dimension in 1980 when the hammer throw was introduced into the order of events for the Goddard Invitational. Using his limited industrial arts skills, Coach Schmidt welded together some chain to fashion an implement that roughly conformed to the specifications. Researching sources printed in English (the good stuff was all in Russian), he came up with a technique which was good enough to rule the day.
Legal equipment and three clinics with the current world record holder, Russia’s Yuri Sedyk, translated into nine of the ten all time best marks in Kansas for Andale athletes in the event. Four Andale hammer throwers threw in the Keebler International Prep Meet in Chicago, the top post season meet in the country.
While serving on the KSHSAA’s track and field rules committee, Coach Schmidt again had an opportunity to affect change. Schmidt helped craft the current framework for the bonus qualifier and the criteria by which qualifying standards are adjusted yearly. In conjunction with the committee work, Schmidt served as KSHSAA track and field rules interpreter for four years.
Another unique opportunity for Schmidt came when the new Andale High School building was in the planning stage and he had the chance to design the layout of the new football/track and field facility. One of his prime objectives was to provide the capability of contesting boys’ and girls’ field events simultaneously. Prevailing Kansas winds would be used to enhance rather than hinder performances. Above all, the throwing and jumping venues were to be user, coaching, and spectator friendly. Now, vicious fall North-South Kansas winds do not impact play on the East-West Andale football field. Whenever a visiting coach describe it as the best track and field facility around, Schmidt admits to feeling a bit smug feeling. It’s a source of great satisfaction.
The new century was a signal for Andale athletics to shift into high gear. Emerging as perhaps the dominant school in the entire spectrum of Class 4A, the State’s most competitive class, Andale has been transformed from a State contender to a perennial State contender in almost every sport.
Coach Schmidt says that after six decades of coaching he strongly believes that showing the athlete the path to their success is the fuel that feeds the fire that burns in champions.
“When I started teaching and coaching at Andale, I had completed my Masters Degree in school administration the previous year. My plans were to teach a couple more years then transition to a more lucrative administrative job. As the years passed, school administration looked less and less attractive to me. While I had always loved my job, I had grown to love the school, the town, and the people and I never wanted to leave.”