Jodie Karsak sad to leave Panthers girls basketball

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Janeah Berry

“I can remember when I applied for the job and they asked me what I wanted to do and I said that it would be phenomenal if we could create something that made our school, our community really proud of something. I think we checked that box.”

Resigning after the 2020-2021 basketball season, Karsak is leaving Derby for her husband’s new job in Kansas City. 

Before the start of the basketball season, Karsak was awarded Coach of the Year by the Kansas Coaches Association (KCA). Each year KCA chooses one female and one male basketball coach from all classes and all ages.

“I’m extremely humbled. Getting an award like that isn’t about me, it’s really about all the people that work beside me, our coaching staff, our players, our managers. Really, it represents the kind of the village, the community, that we have in order to make our program do well.”

What is your plan in Kansas City?

“It honestly was a big surprise. My husband got laid off in early September, late August and couldn’t find anything in his field here. And so he happened to get a job in Kansas City. So it wasn’t something that we expected at all, so it’s taken me a while to get used to the idea. 

What am I personally going to do when I get there? I have no idea. I’m just going to wait and see. I would assume it’s something with basketball, along those lines. I don’t plan on hopping into the highschool up there. Derby is too personal to my heart to make that jump.”

What are you looking forward to?

“In all honesty, I graduated from Olathe South in 1994, so in some ways, I’m going home. But it’ll be a new exciting adventure for my family. The job that my husband got, he’s really excited about. It’s awesome to see him happy. He supported me doing this (basketball) for eight to nine years. Now I get to go and support him. So kind of in a way, I’m going back home although my heart is here.” 

Are there any sad feelings leaving the team?

“Absolutely, my heart is honestly broken in two. It’s been very difficult. We knew two weeks before I told the team. I wrestled with when to tell them. I’ve never met a coach to tell their team before the season that they’re leaving, however, I just felt it was the right thing to do. 

One of the reasons is I have a daughter here. For her to keep a secret for eight months or whatever that would be a lot. She needs to be able to have the freedom to have support from her friends and get hugs when she needs it. Also, the way that we are in our program, it almost makes more sense for us to go “let’s help each other through this hard time.” It will really bond us together and it already has. We have already cried a lot of tears and we’re really excited to go on this last ride together.”

What is your advice to the team?

“If anyone kind of pays attention to our program we talk about being uncommon. There’s a lot of things that go into that. I think they should just continue to grow and be uncommon and play for each other. They’ve got all the talent in the world. They just have to continue to do what they do. They’re awesome. They’re not going to have any trouble. We’ll get another coach in here, that’ll be great, but we’re not worried about that yet. We really are excited about this season.”

What are your feelings about leaving the staff?

“It’s all super sad. I always talk about feelings or thoughts being in a parking lot and if I go park in my sadness, I will not want to go outside of my house. Everyone that I work with from the (girl’s basketball) staff, to the guy’s staff, to the other coaches in the building, to the administrators, to the staff here…the community. I have so many really wonderful relationships and so it’s gonna be a really hard goodbye.”

What legacy do you hope you leave here in Derby?

“I can remember when I applied for the job and they asked me what I wanted to do and I said that it would be phenomenal if we could create something that made our school, our community really proud of something. I think we checked that box. It wasn’t just because of me. I had a vision. So many people from 2013, when I started, on through, so many people have believed in that vision. There’s a lot to be proud of there, but I would say most of all, I’m proud of every single player that has come through the program.”