School board hires new football, gymnastic coaches

By David Lias

david.lias@plaintalk.net

The Vermillion School Board approved the contracts of two individuals who will replace two long-time coaches in the Vermillion School District in the next school year.

Andrew Homan is the district’s new head high school football coach, replacing Gary Culver, who announced his resignation last March after a 36-year coaching career in Vermillion. Culver’s employment as a VHS math teacher will continue.

Homan played high school football at Battle Creek–Ida Grove High School in Ida Grove, IA. He played college football for the University of South Dakota and for Morningside College, until injuries forced him to stop playing. While a competitor, he played at various positions, including full back, tight end and linebacker.

Homan, who has a bachelor’s degree in physical education and sports science from Morningside, has served as an assistant football coach and strength conditioning “in a couple locations,” Superintendent Mark Froke said at Monday’s school board meeting. “He has been student teaching now at Lawton-Bronson (School District in Lawton, IA) while getting his degree from the university as a teacher, and at the same time, he was coaching football, basketball and track.”

He will teach physical education and social science courses in the Vermillion School District.

There were 12 applicants for the Tanager head football coaching job. That field was thinned to four finalists who were interviewed by Froke, Pat Anderson, middle school principal, Curt Cameron, high school principal and Jason Huska, athletic director.

In a short news release included with the school board’s meeting agenda, Homan stated, “I am excited to have the opportunity to teach and be the head coach for Vermillion. It has a rich tradition and I can’t wait to get started.”

Culver, the all-time winningest coach at Vermillion High School, completed 36 years at the helm of the Tanager football program. During his tenure, he led the Tanagers to five state championships in 1990, 1991, 1992, 1995 and 1999.

Under his direction, the Tanagers also won 10 regional championships, 12 Big Eight Conference championships, and made 27 playoff appearances in the 32 years of high school football playoffs in South Dakota.

Culver is one of 14 South Dakota high school football coaches to record 200 or more wins in their career. In 1990, he was selected as Siouxland Coach of the Year by the Sioux City Journal. In 1993, he served as the head coach of the South All-Star football team.

In 2004, Culver was a National Power of Influence Award Finalist as presented by the American Football Coaches Association and was also presented the Distinguished Service Award by the SDHSAA.

In 2009, he was inducted into the South Dakota Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

The school board Monday also approved the hiring of Skye Bork as the high school’s new head gymnastics coach. For the last three years, she has served as assistant coach for the VHS gymnastics program.

Bork will replace Mark Upward, who decided to resign as head coach after completing his 33rd season earlier this year. Upward will remain employed with the district as elementary principal.

Upward coached seven state championship teams, and seven state runner-up championship teams. He also has coached 42 individual state title winners, and has gone to the state tournament 27 of his 33 years coaching.

Upward is the architect of Vermillion gymnastics. He helped set up the program upon his graduation from the University of South Dakota in 1975 and became head coach in 1979.

He received the Coaches Hall of Fame Award in 1998, the Coaches Leadership Award in 2002, and the Pete Torino Award in 2007. In 2009, Upward received the South Dakota High School Activities Association (SDHSAA) Distinguished Service Award for his efforts in advancing gymnastics in not only Vermillion, but throughout the region.

He was selected three times as the South Dakota Gymnastics Coach of the Year – in 1982, 1984 and 1985

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