Athletic apathy spurs coaches to make a change

WPHS Bobcats

The Western Plains Bobcats are still relatively new to the towns of Bazine and Ransom, Kan.

It was less than 10 years ago that the two towns consolidated their school districts.

The Ransom Longhorns shed their horns and the Bazine Indians dropped their headdresses in favor of claws and paws to become the Bobcats.

According to people who where here at the time of the merge, students in the district seemed unaffected by the consolidation. Some of the community members didn’t take it as well.

Since then, attendance at high school events, especially athletics, has dropped off to little more than a scattering of a few parents sitting in the stands to cheer on their athletes.

The students deserved more attention for their efforts, yet little was being done to turn the tide and increase the school spirit.

Small crowds diminish the confidence of the student athletes, and soon they too begin to think that the sports events don’t matter. This is a severe detriment to the program, causing fewer and fewer students to join the teams.

But this isn’t the way it should be. High school athletes should be equal to professionals within their communities.

Youngsters should be clamoring to get the players’ autographs and yearning to spend time with the cool athletes.

High school students not out for the sport should feel as much a part of the team as the players. They should anchor a booming student section that becomes a part of the teams’ defense and offense.

Community members should be doing everything in their power to pack the stands at the home games, and a long caravan of vehicles should follow the team to away games.

Every game, win or lose, should be met with an incredible fanfare that makes the athletes realize they aren’t just high school students. They are superstars in their own backyards.

They should want to go out onto the field of battle to not only win for themselves but also for the throngs of fans cheering them on at deafening volumes.

Other teams should fear stepping foot into the home gym, and they should dread having the fans travel to their turf.

Being a part of the community in any manner should be absolutely electrifying, an adrenaline rush that everyone becomes addicted to.

That is what high school athletics should feel like, but apathy reigns supreme at Western Plains.

Students don’t care, faculty and staff don’t have complete faith in the teams, community members don’t turn out to support the squads and the team records continue to dip downward.

Now a concerted effort is being made to make Western Plains High School sports what it should be.

WPHS boys’ basketball head coach Jerod Horchem and WPHS girls’ basketball head coach Travis Schafer are first year coaches. They are fired up and excited to be leading the teams, and they have assistant coaches, Todd Vogts for the boys and Debbie Hagans for the girls, that are also wanting to will the players to succeed.

The coaches are united, and they want to help turn the program around and get people behind the teams once again.

Posters featuring pictures of the players and the teams’ schedules have been made and hung around the towns, new warm-up attire has been purchased for the players to use, magnets with the schedules are in the works, a pep club bus is being discussed, pep rallies will be held often, students not playing are urged to attend the games and create a raucous student section, and a new Web site was created to showcase the student athletes of Western Plains High School.

The Web site is, and it was developed by Todd Vogts, with graphic design assistant from Angela Ingram and photography help from Cort Anderson. On that site, stories about the players and the games they play will appear, along with stats and other pieces of fandom, making it a one-stop-shop for all that is Bobcat sports.

The Bobcat Nation will also be updating everyone on the games as they happen live using Twitter. The Bobcat Nation can be found by checking out @wphsbobcats.

Vogts will also be communicating with various sports Web sites, such as and Catch It Kansas, to further spread the news of The Bobcat Nation. He will also try to send news items to local news outlets such as The Ness County News and The Hays Daily News.

The four coaches are willing to do anything to get people get back into supporting the local team, and they hope their efforts will light a fire under the Western Plains community.

It is the Bobcat Nation. School spirit needs to get cranked up a notch, and they are hoping to do just that and break the control knob clean off.

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About toddvogts 807 Articles
Todd R. Vogts, MJE, is an assistant professor of media at Sterling College in Kansas. Previously, he taught yearbook, newspaper, newsmagazine, and online journalism in various Kansas high schools, and he ran a weekly newspaper in rural Kansas. He continues to freelance as a professional journalist from time to time. Also, Vogts is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Journalism Education Association, among others. When he’s not teaching or writing, he runs his mobile disk jockey service and takes part in other entrepreneurial ventures. He can be reached at or via his website at