As soon as Derek Zeck walked into his interview, Leavenworth High School athletic director Shawn Terry knew he was the man to propel the girls basketball team back into the spotlight.
Not only was Zeck already successful with coaching experience in the youth and college ranks, but he was home-grown. Zeck had graduated from Leavenworth in 1989, the last year the Pioneers won a state title.
“There was no question when we interviewed him,” Terry said. “He is very similar to how I coached when I was (coaching), very demanding, but very appreciative of the hard work the girls (endured).”
His instinct proved correct and, after just one season, Zeck last season led the Pioneers to a Kansas substate championship and a 14-9 record. This season, Leavenworth ended its state championship drought by winning the Kansas Class 5A state title with a 24-1 record.
Zeck, The Star’s All-Metro girls basketball coach of the year, and his Pioneers ended the season No. 1 in The Star’s big-class rankings.
“I grew up in this community and my business is in this community, so to be able to represent our community and the school I graduated from as their basketball coach — I’m very honored to even have that privilege,” Zeck said. “I bleed Leavenworth blue, so to lead them to the state championship is a dream come true.”