Palisade’s Kirby gets softball job
Palisade High School stayed within the softball program in its search for a new head coach, promoting assistant Tony Kirby.
Kirby takes over for John Vanlandingham, who resigned last month.
“I didn’t know he was going to step down, so it was kind of a surprise to me,” Kirby said. “Once it was open, I pursued it because we’ve had these girls for the last four years.”
This is Kirby’s first high school head coaching job, but he’s no stranger to the program. Kirby has spent the past seven years at Palisade, coaching baseball for two years and softball the past five.
Kirby coached first base and was the infield and hitting coach for the Bulldogs.
“We are excited to have him continue to serve the kids at PHS,” Palisade Athletic Director Mike Krueger said.
Kirby is taking over a team that made major strides last season. The Bulldogs went 15-7-1 and advanced out of the regional bracket to the state softball tournament in Denver.
The Bulldogs lost 10-0 in the first round to eventual champion Wheat Ridge.
“We want to improve from last year,” Kirby said. “We just want to keep that momentum going.”
Palisade lost six seniors from last season, but return key players in Emily Crow, Tiffany Wells and Regan VanNoy.
Kirby was Vanlandingham’s top assistant the past few years, and said he likes what the team has coming back.
“They are strong defensively and really jelled as a team,” Kirby said. “We have a lot of leadership coming back and should be strong.”
Kirby has gained enough experience at the high school level as an assistant to know what to expect as the head coach. He said it’s important to keep the team focused.
“You have to go out and motivate them to work hard,” Kirby said. “There are a lot of distractions every day in school where something might happen that affects the way they practice, so you have to keep them focused on the goals.”
The high school season is right around the corner, with practice starting Aug. 16.
“I would be excited even if I was still an assistant,” Kirby said. “I’m going to keep it the same, we’ll work hard and try to be successful.”