Joplin High School boys basketball officially has a new head coach—Bronson Schaake.
“I think this is an exciting step (in my career),” Schaake said to SoMo Sports in a phone conversation. “In the interview over there, I got to see the facilities and meet with the administration and get a real feel for everything. I know they have some really good players over there, and they have a really good weights program. I am just ready and excited to get started.”
Schaake is the former head coach at Riverton High School, where he led the Rams since the 2016 season. This past winter, Riverton finished with a 14-5 record and fell in the sub-state championship to Galena, with the Bulldogs going on to finish runner-up in Class 3A. Schaake was a finalist for Kansas Class 3A coach of the year in 2021.
“Moving down from Kansas City and getting used to the area, they have great people over there who let me build a program,” Schaake said of his time in Southeast Kansas. “It was a little rough in the first year, but we got better and better each season after that. More and more kids came out and the expectations changed. We were winning at all levels—varsity, JV and freshmen. It just established that culture, and that is the same tempo I am going to bring to Joplin.”
Schaake is taking over for former Joplin coach Jeff Hafer, who stepped down from his post at the end of last season. The Eagles finished with a 12-13 record in 2020-21.
“I know they have a really good squad returning, and Coach Hafer did a really good job with them,” Schaake said. “I just want to keep building off of what they’ve done and take them to the next level. I know they are in a really good conference, and I just want to keep pushing them to get better. You have to have expectations, and the kids have to know that.”
One of the reasons the Joplin job interested Schaake was the competition level the Eagles play at in the Central Ozark Conference. When asked about his plans to keep Joplin competitive in a stacked conference, Schaake was quick to note the preparation starts long before the first game of the season.
“It starts in the offseason,” Schaake said. “The weight room is No. 1 for me. Obviously, playing basketball like everyone else is important, but you have to have discipline and accountability on top of expectations. That is how you have to improve. We just have to instill that in the kids and create that mentality on a daily basis. It doesn’t matter if it’s the offseason or in the regular season.”
Schaake noted he wants to teach players coming up in his program his system at an earlier age, rather than waiting until they reach the varsity or JV level. That means getting to them as freshmen or possibly during middle school so they are prepared when they reach the varsity level.
“It’s about how to keep the floor spaced, how to read the game and how to set each other up,” Schaake said. “You want kids to be aggressive but also unselfish so they make good decisions. That just comes with repetition.
“Our base is just playing basketball in motion, but we will also have a structured plan if things get too sloppy here and there just to get us back on track. You have to play to the strengths of your players. You have to highlight that.”
Of course, there will be expectations for success for Schaake as he takes over the Eagle hoops program. But, with the community support he has already seen for Joplin sports in his limited time in the area, Schaake is excited for the opportunity to reach those expectations.
“That kind of support is what any coach is looking for,” Schaake said. “You just want to make sure the community and the administration has your back. Just based on what I have seen from the outside looking in, that is what I’ve noticed about Joplin.
“Around town, I see a ton of Joplin sports calendars. When I see that many in different places, that means they are really supportive of the school. That is what you are looking for as a coach.”
While his debut with the Eagles is still several months away, one thing is certain, Schaake is ready to get started as the head coach for Joplin boys basketball.
“I am just ready to get started, but I still have to figure out all of the Missouri rules,” Schaake said with a laugh. “It’s amazing we are that close to each other, but the rules are so different from the Kansas to Missouri side. I am ready to get acclimated to the kids and let them know what I am looking for. I just want to keep the success they’ve had over the last four of five years going, and maybe amp it up a little bit, too.”