The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

High School Sports

June 13, 2012

Ernst excited about new challenge with Purdy

Eli Ernst, 34, had been a boys basketball coach since entering the profession.

But Ernst is very happy with his duties as new girls coach at Purdy High School.

“I’m excited about it,” Ernst said Tuesday. “It’s different for me, of course, but the girls seem to be taking to what we’re trying to accomplish.

“I believe we fit in at Purdy,” Ernst said. “I’m honored and humbled. I’m proud.”

Jennifer Schallert will remain with the Eagles as athletic director and assistant in basketball and softball.

Ernst said he was more than a casual acquaintance of former Purdy head coach Grant Young (who moved to Union).

“Our wives know each other very well,” Ernst said. “They were classmates at Nixa.”

Ernst, who was at Fordland the past five seasons, assisted Dave Smith for two years before becoming the boys head coach.

Ernst, a 1995 graduate of Mountain View-Birch Tree Liberty High School, began coaching while attending Missouri State in Springfield.

He coached two years at the junior high level at Nixa — assisting Jay Osborne — and served a year under Darren Taylor at Greenwood before returning to Nixa for another year — also to student teach — prior to joining Smith at Fordland.

Ernst’s wife, Sarah, teaches at Century Elementary in Nixa. The resume of her late father, Marc Zerbe, includes coach at Metz in its last season in 1983-84.

Sarah and Eli have three children — daughters Kierstin, 17, and Kendall, 6, and son Kamden, 3.

Ernst, who’ll receive a master’s degree in August from Lindenwood, said the Eagles graduated four stalwarts from a 24-6, 10-0 (Ozark 7 Conference) edition.

But the Eagles should have two returning senior starters in Mattie White and Katie Hughes. Plus, three experienced sophomores are expected to return in Jayse Henderson, Billie House and Kat Hughes.

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High School Sports