Prep Baseball & Softball

Columbia High baseball coach resigns after seven seasons

Former Columbia coach Keith Jany (with glasses on hat in center) talks to one of his pitchers.
Former Columbia coach Keith Jany (with glasses on hat in center) talks to one of his pitchers. Zia Nizami/BND

After 16 seasons of coaching other people’s children, Columbia High baseball coach Keith Jany decided he wanted to spend more time with his own family.

Jany resigned his varsity baseball coaching position late last week after seven seasons with the Eagles. His teams were 149-74 overall and never won fewer than 20 games, including a 24-7 record in 2011 and 21-5 in 2008.

Jany, 40, coached previously at Columbia as an assistant varsity coach and also in junior high.

“I coached the kids at Columbia for 16 years and now it’s time for me to start being around my kids some more,” said Jany, who has a pair of daughters Karsen and Kinley that are 10 and 8, respectively, and also involved in numerous sports. “It just got to be too hectic and I felt like I had to make a decision. I’m never going to get these years back with my kids, but I can always get back into coaching.

“Everybody has been awesome and they’ve been so supportive. It’s hard to leave a position like that.”

Jany said he met with Columbia Assistant Superintendent Beth Horner after last season to talk about his future with the program. It wasn’t an easy decision.

I coached the kids at Columbia for 16 years and now it’s time for me to start being around my kids some more. It just got to be too hectic and I felt like I had to make a decision.

Columbia baseball coach Keith Jany

“I thought about it all summer and I was back and forth and on the fence,” Jany said. “I was going to try to to do it one more year and possibly more, but my family was important. I’m definitely going to miss the kids and I’ll miss the game. It’s been a great run and I had a lot of great kids.”

Jany was an assistant coach on Columbia’s 2007 Class A state championship team as well as the 2006 team that finished fourth at state. Columbia owns two state baseball titles; the other came in 1987.

The only thing that eluded him during his seven-year tenure was a long playoff run. The Eagles won or shared four Cahokia Conference-Mississppi Division titles and reached the regional championship on several occasions, but were unable to nail down a title.

Columbia’s last baseball regional title came during the 2007 state title season.

“Keith did an outstanding job when he was an assistant coach under (former coach) Dustin Nail,” Columbia Athletic Director Joe Iorio said. “I can understand wanting to be with your kids and your family, too. He picked up the program from where it was at and did a lot of work to get our current baseball field to what I would consider one of the better fields among other schools our size.”

The assistant coach on staff with the most experience would be Neal O’Donnell, who plans on applying for the head coaching position. He was Jany’s assistant head coach and also coaches the junior high team.

“Of course we’re going to look in-house first but we’ll be starting to have interviews before too long here,” Iorio said. “We’ve got a few baseball people still on staff who have been associated with the school district, too. I’m sure that’s the place we’ll start and we’ll move as we need to.”

Jany was being interviewed Sunday followed the third of three softball games played that day by his older daughter, Karsen. His desire to spend more time with his family conflicted with all the time he was devoting to the Columbia High baseball program.

He said his wife is also studying to become a nurse practitioner, another factor in the decision.

“I’ve been thinking about it for a while, actually since April,” said Jany, who enjoyed being the head coach in what he considered a top-flight baseball community. “Our kids grow up watching Cardinals baseball and they grow up playing baseball and when they come to me, they know how to play baseball for the most part.

They’ve got great athletes here with great talent and tradition. It’s a tough position to leave just for that alone.”

Norm Sanders: 618-239-2454, @NormSanders

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