Lakeland High School gym

A picture of the Lakeland High School gym at the beginning of a girls basketball sectional game between Lakeland and Central Noble on Feb. 7, 2020. Five new head coaches were approved Monday by the Lakeland School Board of Trustees, including new girls basketball head coach Dale Gearheart.

LAGRANGE — New Lakeland Athletic Director Kyle Grossman has had a hectic first few weeks on the job.

His schedule became a little more cleared up Monday night.

Five new varsity head coaches were approved by the Lakeland School Board of Trustees, filling the six coaching vacancies the Lakers had. Here’s what Grossman had to say about all five new head coaches.

Dale Gearheart, girls basketball. Previous stop: Blackford Community Schools: “He’s been a head coach before. He’s been a head volleyball coach before. He’s been an AD before, so he has a lot of experience working with athletic departments, working with the kids. We were just really impressed with his style of teaching ability, his plan for how he wanted his program to run, just how detail-oriented he is. I think that’ll give our girls basketball program a nice boost with the talent that we have coming back.”

Chris Keil, boys basketball. Previous stop: AAU circuit. “Chris just brings a disciplined approach; an approach that, in my opinion, would be best for our program and best for our kids. A little bit of getting back to the basics will be good. We’ll be playing defense at a very high level, we’ll be playing up-tempo, we’ll be aggressive. Chris just brings a lot of good qualities to our program and sets us on a new path and gives us the best chance to win in the future.”

Kristina Fry, cheerleading. Previous stop: Lakeland junior high cheerleading coach. “Her ability to relate to the girls was one of her biggest things. Her familiarity and ability to form relationships with the girls helps set up our program for success.”

Lincoln McDonald, boys soccer. Previous stop: Westview. “He’s been a varsity and JV coach at Westview, so he has experience coaching. He’s got lots of energy; I was impressed with his interview. With his coaching style, what he talked about being most important was learning the game and understanding the game and making sure the kids have fun as a process to winning, instead of just being totally focused on winning. We talk about developing a program and setting a different culture for us – finding some stability with what we’re trying to build. He really fit into our athletic department culture in that sense, so we’re excited to have him.”

Michael Rasbaugh, boys and girls tennis. Previous stop: Lakeland assistant tennis coach under Grossman: “I’m excited for him to get his chance to take this over. I think he does a really good job relating to the kids, which is one of the biggest things that I’m looking for; making sure that the kids are involved, they want to be there, they’re having fun, and then everything else kind of takes care of itself.”

Grossman worked with outgoing Lakeland AD Roman Smith to get the hiring processes started. Smith is the new Warsaw assistant AD. While Grossman’s new role didn’t officially start until July 1, he had started doing the majority of his new AD duties by the last week of June.

With his varsity head coaching staff set in place, Grossman can now focus on preparing for a fall sports season that may or may not happen due to the coronavirus. The IHSAA is still in phase one of its three-phase return plan for sports. Phase two could begin July 20 if everything goes to plan.

“We have a plan of what we can do and we’re just trying to do that to the best of our ability, as far as being safe,” Grossman said. “It also gives the kids something positive to look forward to doing. … no matter where it goes from here, let’s make this the best experience for them and is as close to normal as we can get.”

Austin Hough can be reached at austin.hough@goshennews.com or at 574-538-2360. Follow him on Twitter at @AustinHoughTGN.

Austin Hough can be reached at austin.hough@goshennews.com or at 574-538-2360. Follow him on Twitter at @AustinHoughTGN.

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