SHERIDAN — The Panthers have hired Justin Kidneigh to take over boys basketball head coaching duties at Arvada-Clearmont High School.
Bo Benth coached both the boys and girls basketball programs last season. Kidneigh’s hire will allow Benth to focus his time and energy on the Lady Panthers.
Kidneigh has taught history, government and psychology for the past 10 years at Big Horn High School and will finish his 30-year teaching career. Kidneigh said he saw the job opening prior to last season and was interested but decided to wait it out as he still had a year left in his teaching career and would require a 35 miles drive to practices.
Arvada-Clearmont athletic director Jennifer Betz is pleased in her new hire, one in which she’s been familiar with for a decade.
“I think he’ll be a phenomenal fit. That’s what I told our board. He’s super energetic and very passionate about helping kids,” Betz said. “I’ve coached against him in junior high school basketball games. He
S filled with integrity, honesty and compassion for kids.”
Kidneigh’s basketball coaching career started 35 years ago when he led a middle school recreation team in Powell and coached at Central Middle School in Sheridan from 1992-1995. He took charge at Glenrock High School’s boys basketball in 2006, where he coached for six years. Kidneigh has coached a variety of middle school sports at Big Horn to past decade and was in charge of the Big Horn High School Lady Rams in 2014.
Kidneigh said he always knew he’d retire from teaching before coaching.
“Teaching is my passion whether it’s in the classroom or on the court. The intricacies of basketball have always drawn me in.” Kidneigh said. “Many of us teachers are coaches is probably because there is a much more immediate feedback in sports. A player can gain a skill within five minutes, where as the classroom can be a longer process.”
Kidneigh is familiar with the players on the basketball team as he’s coached against them in middle school. Additionally, he has attended and watched many of their games from home as well. The Panthers were winless last season.
“They have a lot of heart. There’s a lot of competitive spirit there. They deserve to have someone focus on them, and I’ll be retired in for 50s, and that will free me up to watch a lot of film,” Kidneigh said.
The new hire was approved by the school board May 9 and soon after started to walk the halls to meet members of the basketball team.
“My wife and I were laying some relationship pieces and then stayed for their sports banquet. I wanted to watch the dynamics of the community,” Kidneigh said. “I liked what I’ve seen from the community. They are authentically supportive of their kids.”
Kigneigh plans to bring an aggressive style of defense to Arvada-Clearmont.
“I told the boys of where I stood on pressing on defense. ‘You know what it’s like to face the presses, now you'll get to do it.’ The smiles went around the room. Boys naturally want to be aggressive. You just have to channel it in the right ways.”
Justin Hunter is a reporter at The Sheridan Press.