Waxhaw’s Maleski soars at diving championships
Fourteen-year-old Waxhaw resident Sara Maleski had a strong showing at the USA Diving Region 3 Championships last month at the University of South Carolina.
While competing for Huntersville-based Carolina Diving Academy, Maleski took fifth place in the 1-meter springboard and third in the 3-meter event in the 14-15-year-old girls division.
The top 15 finishers in each event qualified for the USA Diving Zone B Championships this weekend in Ypsilanti, Mich.
Carolina Diving Academy, based out of Huntersville’s Family Fitness & Aquatics, also won the Region 3 team championship over the Ohio State Diving Club (second) and the American School for Diving at Duke University (third).
USA Diving holds 10 region championships across the United States; Region 3 comprises South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.
Indian Trail resident Donald Kirby named new Butler boys hoops coach
Last week, Donald Kirby made one of the toughest decisions of his professional life.
On one hand, the Indian Trail resident already was the head boys basketball coach at West Mecklenburg High School, where he’d spent six seasons turning the Hawks from laughingstocks into a program that opponents had to take seriously. On the other hand, he’d just been offered the top job at Butler High School, where he spent several years as an assistant coach helping the Bulldogs make a name for themselves on the ultra-competitive Charlotte hoops landscape.
Ultimately, he chose to head back “home” to Butler.
Kirby replaces longtime Butler coach Kurt Wessler, who resigned to spend more time with his family. Kirby had been an assistant coach under Wessler as Butler became a strong team in the Southwestern 4A conference. The Bulldogs won the league’s regular-season and tournament titles last season.
While Kirby is happy to be back at Butler, leaving the West Meck program he lifted to respectability wasn’t necessarily easy.
“I feel kind of like Roy Williams felt when he had a good thing going at Kansas and made the decision to go back home to coach North Carolina,” Kirby said. “It tugs at your heart.
“We did some great things at West Meck, and I liked the players we had coming back next year, too. But taking over a (Butler) program that I helped build was too big a draw. Plus, it’s closer to home for me.”
Since becoming the Hawks’ coach before the 2005-06 season, Kirby has made the long commute from his home in Indian Trail all the way to West Meck’s Tuckaseegee Road campus.
In the 10 years before Kirby took over at West Meck, the Hawks averaged seven wins per season. In his second year with the team, however, West Meck won a conference championship while posting a 19-10 record, and Kirby was named the league’s coach of the year. He went on to win a pair of conference tournament titles and make five state playoff appearances, including during the 2010-11 season, when he led the Hawks (17-10) to the 4A West sectional finals.
“I feel like we did a good job – and when I say ‘we,’ I mean the assistant coaches, the students and the administration at West Meck,” Kirby said. “We built a program that was respected and competed with anybody in the city and even in the state. We no longer were that program people wanted to play on homecoming and things like that so they could get a guaranteed win. We became a program to be reckoned with. And I’m real proud of that.
“But now I’m excited to back at Butler. I think we can do some great things there.”
A new high school football team
There will be a new football team in the area when the 2011 high school football season kicks off.
The St. Jude Fighting Christians will begin play this fall as an independent varsity team. The squad is primarily for home-schooled and private-school students in Union and Mecklenburg counties, although the organization also welcomes public-school athletes who don’t have a chance to play for their school teams for various reasons. The cost to join the St. Jude team is $299.
For more information, contact head coach Jim Mallos at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.stjudefootball.com.