Kansas native returns to coach

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August 25, 2012 - 12:00 AM

The distance between Iola and Derby might be only 105 miles, but for Doug Kerr, Iola High School strength coach and head football coach, the distance he has covered is so much more than that.
 After graduating from high school, Kerr went to Fort Scott Community College to play football and get some college experience under his belt.
From there, Kerr attended Lindenwood University, a liberal arts school just west of St. Louis, to study journalism. After graduation, Kerr began work for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“I was one of the low guys on the totem pole there,” Kerr said. “I would get assigned to cover two or three games a night. Back then they wouldn’t even pay for our gas, so I would drive out to the edge of town and actually not make any money doing the work.”
To make ends meet he also worked for a radio station and in retail.
“I spent a year basically not seeing the sun,” Kerr said. “I would go into work before the sun came up, sit in my cubby, and then go cover games in the evening. Plus work two other jobs. I wasn’t living, I was just working all the time.”
Kerr returned to Lindenwood University and became certified in television production. He then landed a job in Port St. Lucie, Fla. to teach TV production and be an assistant football coach.
Still, life was too busy for Kerr and his wife, Camille.
“Down there in Florida, things are much faster paced, the community is bigger,” Kerr said. “We lived in a community of 200,000 people. We were wanting to raise our kids in a safe, friendly community.”
It was then that a football coaching position opened up at Iola High School. Kerr packed up with his wife and three children, Olivia, 9, Benjamin, 6 and Franklin, 3 to come to Iola.
Coming back to Kansas, Kerr has been pleasently surprised by the difference that Iola holds from other communities he has lived in.
“When I was in Florida, they had each county set as a school district,” Kerr said. “So you had kids that might be from a completely different part of the county getting bused across town to a school they had no real association with. There was no school or community pride because of that. Here, you see people wearing the blue and gold and they really love the school.”
The other thing that has impressed both he and his family has been the vibrant life of the community. With local attractions like the Bowlus Fine Arts Center and Allen County History Museum, Kerr thinks that Iola is headed in the right direction.
“There is a sense of growth here,” Kerr said. “People want Iola to be great so they are taking so much pride in the community here. Things like Thrive Allen County have been huge for Iola also in terms of what it’s doing for the town.”
While features and attractions might be what made a good first impression, Kerr thinks that the people are what are making a lasting impression to he and his family.
“Everyone is just so friendly here,” Kerr said. “My wife, who isn’t from Kansas, went for a bike ride recently and she asked me if there was something wrong with how she looked because everyone was waving at her that she passed. I told her, ‘no they’re just being friendly.’ That’s what we love so much about Iola.”

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