Over the summer, Randy Stange became the new Director of Athletics for the college. Stange filled the position left by Carl Heinrich, who retired June 2017.
Stange has over 30 years of experience as a player, coach, and athletic director with his most recent position as the athletic director for the Springfield, Mo. public school district. Stange saw the chance to work at the college as a great opportunity.
“I was always a fan of Johnson County, even from a distance. I was the athletic director at Hutchinson … I was there 21 years,” Stange said. “I always admired the programs that Johnson has. I was big fan of Carl and was friends with him for a long time. When this job opened, I just saw this as a great opportunity for me. I’m really blown away by how wonderful [the athletic department] is.”
The coaches Stange had inspired him to become a coach and later on an athletic director. He considers his coaches and parents as role models and hopes to follow in their footsteps.
“I had great role models, the people that I really looked up to were coaches,” Stange said. “They really molded and helped shape my life. I was very fortunate to have that in my life and I count that as a real blessing. I want to make sure I’m helping people in the same way to be what they can be and to keep them moving forward in a positive direction.”
Ben Conrad, women’s basketball coach, believes Stange’s understanding of athletic challenges will greatly contribute to the athletic department. His fresh perspective is another addition to the programs.
“I think [Stange] really has all the things we need in a leader here,” Conrad said. “He’s a good guy, he’s familiar with our league, he’s coached and his mentors are coaches, so he has a great understanding and empathy for the challenges coaches face. I also think a fresh perspective from his time at another school is a good thing for us here at [the college].”
Stange believes his primary role is working with coaches and learning the in’s and out’s of the college’s athletic programs. His focus will involve students, staff and coaches.
“I certainly will work with our coaches and athletes here. The system that’s in place at is a really solid system, and I’m still learning that,” Stange said. “People have been very professional, very accommodating, and friendly. I’m still learning how to use the gifts that I have within our department. It’s gonna involve our coaches, staff and students and how to best serve them.”
Another part of Stange’s focus as an athletic director will be serving the community. The college’s connection with the community was admired by Stange.
“There’s an aspect of community and it’s in our name. We have a great partnership with the community,” Stange said. “I like to have our teams as active as possible and there are constraints because we go to school and we practice, but there are opportunities out there that I want our coaches to look for. That starts with what I emphasize and I shoulder that responsibility.”
One of the benefits of athletics is the development of life skills. Stange believes athletes develop a learned skill that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
“You win and you lose and you learn to persevere and fight through it. There’s some life skills that as you get farther away from your career, you realize those were ingrained as an athlete,” Stange said. “The ability to perform those skills you learn as an athlete, is a little different from any other thing that you do. That skill does serve you well in life because you have ups and downs.”
Conrad believes the coaches and the athletic director’s relationship with the coaches help contribute to the athletic development of student athletes.
“Developing student athletes really starts and with the coaches that recruit these kids and see them every day,” Conrad said. “In my experience, the most effective athletic director’s impact on student athlete development is through the strong support of their coaches. I think this is a really strong area for Coach Stange.”
There are many ways Stange thinks he can define success, however, he wants to make sure success is not defined by wins and losses. He believes there is more to success just as there is more to athletics.
“As a coach, I think we owe more to an athlete to teach them life skills, responsibilities and to not take shortcuts,” Stange said. “When I coached Basketball, we brought in somebody who taught us when to say thank you, how to introduce yourself and present yourself. That may not have registered, but that’s a form of success. Just more than wins and losses…I hope it’s more than that.”
Stange’s previous observations of the college’s athletic programs influenced his decision to not make major changes.
“I didn’t want to come in and make big changes. I didn’t think that was necessary because [Heinrich] has done a terrific job,” Stange said. “I’m not here to rewrite what he’s done. I’m gonna listen and really take notes. I’m going to try to enhance in every way that I can. I see as a great opportunity and challenge but I also see that it’s not broken. I’m not here to fix [the athletic department], I think it’s in great condition.”