Liz Monahan hates to call it a family decision, because the girls she’s leaving behind she also considered part of her family.
Monahan resigned recently as the head girls basketball coach at Olathe North after six years at the school and four seasons as head coach. In that time she came to regard her players, and the school, as one tight-knit family. But the demands of her real family increased in that time, too.
“It’s a decision I wish I didn’t have to make,” Monahan said. “I just hate even saying ‘deciding what’s best for my family’ because I do truly think of Olathe North as my family, too.”
Monahan, 32, was single when she first came to Olathe North as an assistant coach to current athletic director Josh Price. During her time there she married Jack Monahan and now has a 2 ½ year-old daughter, Blake, and a 15-month old son, Wes.
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Jack Monahan works in the Royals front office as the director of scouting operations. It’s a job that keeps him on the road constantly, especially from late January through March - the height of the high-school basketball season. Finding friends and relatives to watch over her young family while she coached and he traveled was becoming more difficult.
“I hate that you can’t find a way to juggle everything,” Monahan said. “But I was feeling more and more like I had seven balls in the air and if you take one out they’re all going to fail.”
Monahan exits after leading Olathe North to an 11-8 season, its best record in 15 years. The Eagles also won their first tournament championship in 15 years at Basehor-Linwood and had the Sunflower League’s leading scorer and rebounder in Leyanna McGinnis, who averaged 17.4 points and 14.6 boards a game. McGinnis returs next season along with waht Monahan said was a very talented sophomore class.
“Part of what makes it easier stepping down at this time is I think this is a good time to leave the program,” Monahan said. “The girls proved that they can work hard, that they can persevere together and they know how to piece together some wins.”
Still, Monahan admits it won’t be easy. She hopes she can still stay in touch with the players and maybe help out at practice every now and then, if it’s OK with the new coach.
A new coach that, if she has her way, will also treat those players, and their school, like part of the family.
“I just hope someone steps in and loves those girls as much as I did,” Monahan said. “I truly don’t know if there’s a better school to be a part of than Olathe North.”