Woodland Park athletic director Michael DeWall filled one of his basketball coaching vacancies with a candidate from Nebraska. He filled the other with a candidate about 100 feet from his office.
John Paul Geniesse, an assistant men’s basketball coach at Doane College in Crete, Nebraska, will take over the Woodland Park boys’ team. Kris Kemp, a physical education teacher and coach at Woodland Park, will take over the school’s girls program.
“Not only do John Paul’s credential serve him well, be he came highly recommended,” DeWall said. “He can take on our program and build us to a level that we expect.”
The hire of Kemp was important for a couple of reasons, according to DeWall.
“It’s really important to have a teacher in our building that is also a head coach,” he said. “The way she already interacts with the kids and parents and teachers is a big plus.”
Geniesse is already a familiar figure in the Pikes Peak region. He coached Discovery Canyon from its inception in 2007 (as a junior varsity program) though the 2012-13 season. He directed the Thunder to a school-record 17 wins his final season, including a playoff victory in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament.
Woodland Park has won just 14 games the last five seasons.
“I’m excited to be coming back to Colorado,” said Geniesse, who will remain at Doane through the end of May. “I’m excited to be leading the Woodland Park program. It’s a great program under the radar.”
Geniesse, who is known for wearing fancy three-piece suits during games, is working with DeWall from afar to set up a summer program for all three levels.
“The biggest thing for kids is to develop good habits this summer,” Geniesse said. “I want to get up and down the floor. I want to run. I want to look at our personnel and see what our strengths and weaknesses are.
“We have to be committed first. When we open our gym in December we want to see some fans in the stands and generate some excitement.”
Geniesse’s coaching resume also includes two seasons as an assistant coach and head JV coach at the University of Great Falls.
A native of Colorado where he played for Sheridan in Denver, Geniesse played his college ball at Great Falls and was selected team captain for three years along with being voted defensive MVP his senior season.
He and his wife still maintain a home in Colorado Springs.
“I want our team to play with heart, play with passion and play as a family,” Geniesse said.
Kemp was Woodland Park’s JV coach last season. She also was a varsity assistant under head coach David Graf.
This is her first varsity head coaching position.
“I was happy and content being an assistant coach and I loved being part of a good program here at Woodland Park,” she said. “But when Graf said he was going to resign I wondered `Who are they going to hire? The person they’re looking for sounds like me.’”
Kemp has great familiarity with the players. Her daughter, Katelyn, played for the varsity last season and will be a senior next fall. Another daughter in the program, Abby, will be a sophomore. Kemp also has another daughter, Nikki, who will be an eight-grader at the middle school.
“My hope is to create more of a basketball culture in Woodland Park,” Kemp said. “I want to get the young kids excited to buy into it, and I want to get the parents excited about it.”