Holcomb Longhorns

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Add another Novack to Holcomb

Published 4/16/2014

By BRETT MARSHALL

bmarshall@gctelegram.com

It may sound like the name of a law firm, but when the 2014-15 Holcomb High School basketball season begins, it will be (Chad) Novack coaching the HHS boys for the fourth season and Nathan Novack, a cousin to Chad, now taking over the reins of the Lady Longhorns after a two-year tenure as head boys' coach at Ulysses High School.

Nathan Novack was approved at Monday night's USD 363 board of education meeting after the school had interviewed three candidates a week earlier before recommending Novack, a 1999 Holcomb High School graduate, for the position.

Novack, 33, takes over from Kenton Tennal, who resigned in March following a two-year run in which the Lady Longhorns compiled a 39-8 record and made one Class 3A state appearance in 2013, and lost in the sub-state finals in March to Cimarron.

During the two seasons as head coach of the Tigers, Novack's teams were 17-25 with marks of 11-11 and 6-14 during a rebuilding process with the program. Previously, he had served as the Tigers' assistant for one year, and prior to that he had been an assistant for three years to Scott Stegman at Holcomb High School. He submitted his resignation to Ulysses athletic director Jason Kenny on March 26. He also resigned his high school art teaching position effective at the end of the 2014 school year.

"It was really a tough decision, first, to resign at Ulysses," Novack said Tuesday in a telephone interview. "It was kind of a spur of the moment thing, especially with so many family things coming into play."

Novack has been commuting daily from Holcomb to Ulysses, and with his high school art teaching duties, it has taken additional time from his coaching responsibilities.

"At times, I felt guilty because I couldn't do the things in Ulysses that I would want to do to build the program from the lower grades up," Novack said. "And there were things I was missing with my kids."

His wife, Emie, is a kindergarten teacher in Holcomb and the couple are parents to four children: a girl, Blair, age 11; a boy, Jace, age 10; a girl, Lausyn, age 5; and a boy, Ryer, age 2.

"The older ones are involved in many activities, and so dividing my time between Ulysses and coaching, and trying to be there for my kids, was especially challenging and difficult," Novack said. "I just felt torn between the two places.

Jerry Johnson, athletic director at Holcomb High School, said the school had begun its search process shortly after Tennal had submitted his resignation in March.

"One of the factors we looked at in the interviewing process was that we didn't know what teaching positions would be open when hiring a coach," Johnson said Tuesday in a separate telephone interview. "The reason this all came about is that we interviewed three who didn't need a teaching position. We feel like Nathan is the best fit for what we were looking for."

Thus, Novack will initially be hired as a Rule 10 coach, where he is not an employee of the school district, but is hired under a supplemental contract for one year. He will not be teaching at HHS at the current time, and he is looking at other business opportunities. Supplemental contracts come up for renewal every year, usually in the spring or early summer.

"We've had to tighten our belts with our budget due to funding, and coach Tennal's position at the middle school with physical education was not going to be filled," Johnson said. When Johnson initially contacted Novack about the position, the prospective coach said he was uncertain about whether or not he was interested.

"It all happened quickly, and I just wanted to take some time, visit with my family to see what I wanted to do," Novack said. "I still wanted to coach and to be a head coach, and this is a great opportunity. It's been a pretty strong program and my goal is to make it stronger."

During his high school career at Holcomb, he played for David Novack, an uncle, and also played one year for Ty Walker.

Upon graduation from Holcomb High School, Novack attended Garden City Community College where he earned an associate's degree. He transferred to the University of Kansas where he spent one year. He then transferred to Fort Hays State University where he received a bachelor's of science degree in education in 2006. Once Novack has signed his new supplemental contract, he will be able to begin his new duties.

Tennal had resigned his position approximately two weeks after the conclusion of the 2014 season, during which time he had interviewed and accepted a position as the head girls coach at Ord Neb., a school about the same size as Holcomb located north of Grand Island, Neb. The new location, in which he also will teach physical education in grades K-6, puts Tennal and his family closer to his wife's parents, who live in southwest Iowa.

"It's a good fit, it gets us closer to both of our families," Tennal said Tuesday evening in a telephone interview. "I knew when I came out here that I wouldn't be here forever. It's been a good two years. I had a bunch of good girls and it was an awesome experience."

Tennal said he also had looked into a few positions in Kansas in 2013 after his first season, but nothing seemed to fit.

"I didn't fall in love with those places, and I knew I had a great group coming back, so I stayed through another season," Tennal said.

Of the 12 players who were on the Lady Longhorns' roster at the end of the season, 10 of them were underclassmen, providing Novack a strong nucleus upon which to be build.

"It's a great basketball community, and I'm excited to get started," Novack said of his hometown.

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