The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

March 17, 2014

Nevada boys coach stepping down

John McNeley will remain athletic director

The 2014-15 basketball season for John McNeley will be radically different at Nevada High School.

McNeley has stepped down after 18 seasons as the head boys coach. He’ll be in his second year as the athletic director next fall, and wife Jodie suggested that was enough work.

McNeley believes there’s plenty of fuel remaining in the tank. He knows he’ll miss coaching. However, it’s amazing, he said, how often Jodie has been right.

“I love coaching. Absolutely,” McNeley, 51, said on Monday. “I’ve loved every minute of it. I wouldn’t trade any of those experiences.”

But it looks like McNeley, who was assisted this season by Kyle Talley (a Tiger for McNeley) and Shaun Gray, will be behind a desk in 2014-15 unless the school system is unable to find a replacement.

McNeley always can stay in the game by dashing to the girls basketball practice and offering a few words of advice to head coach Brent Bartlett, an old friend.

“Several people have expressed interest,” McNeley said. “But a lot of that information has gone to the central office.”

McNeley actually was with the basketball Tigers for 24 seasons. He assisted Dave Adams, now principal at Blue Springs High School, for six years before taking the reins.

McNeley credited players for the Tigers’ accomplishments during his tenure. Part of his philosophy is simple but demanding.

“We ask those in our program to play hard and put their noses to the grindstone,” McNeley said.

Eric Johnson, boys basketball coach at College Heights Christian, and McNeley squared off several times in the Southwest Conference while Johnson was at Webb City.

Said Johnson: “John has been a good friend for a long time. He’ll do anything for you. But he — and his teams — on the basketball floor are intense and very competitive.

“Next year? Coach McNeley just thinks he’ll be able to play more golf,” Johnson said with a laugh.

It took several years before McNeley settled into coaching.

He started college at Central Missouri for about a year before transferring to Southwest Baptist. He was a third baseman for the Bearcats while securing an accounting degree.

He was a salesman for VERCO Sporting Goods before earning a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Arkansas. Finally, securing education requirements at Missouri Southern allowed him to begin teaching.

“I’d wanted to coach even in high school,” McNeley said.

McNeley said the Class 4 Tigers face “challenges” in the West Central Conference against Clinton, Sedalia Smith-Cotton and Warrensburg and Kansas City schools Center, O’Hara and St. Pius X.

McNeley naturally hopes to find more family time. Some of it will be spent watching athletic events.

Previous coaching duties for Appleton City graduate Jodie, who’s middle school principal at Nevada, included volleyball coach and assistant in girls basketball.

The McNeleys have four children. Twins Lane and Logan are fifth-graders. Myles, a freshman, and Morgan, a junior, complete the quartet.

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