Kansas high school sports has a new figurehead, and that might not change for some time.
Bill Faflick took over as executive director of the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) on July 1. He replaced Gary Musselman, who severed as the KSHSAA director for 22 years.
Faflick sat with the Eagle for close to an hour and outlined some of his thoughts on taking over the organization and what his plan is going forward into his first school year in command.
Most notably, Faflick noted that KSHSAA’s work isn’t done.
“The activities association is not broken,” he said. “But it’s also not perfect. I think we always have to be responsive to the needs of the member schools. We want to lead as we serve. I think it’s critical that we listen to our schools and have a pulse on what they’re saying.
“The association works, but does it work at the highest level possible? I think that’s what we have to continue to look at.”
That said, Faflick said he has used Musselman’s help through his transition.
“Mr. Musselman knows more about Kansas and Kansas sports than anyone I’ve ever met,” Faflick said. “So having that perpetual game of 20 questions was really good.”
Faflick has a wealth of leadership experience in Kansas. After graduating from Wichita Southeast, he returned and eventually became the Golden Buffaloes’ athletic director. Soon after, he took the next step.
He was named the City League athletic director and held that position for six years. He is the first Wichitan to be named the KSHSAA executive director. With that, he said he understands the problems the City League, and the rest of Kansas, faces.
“One of those things would certainly be inclusion,” Faflick said. “We want to see all students have the opportunity to participate. ... We don’t want to see students who may have an identified disability not have that opportunity.”
“Inclusion” was one of the themes Faflick continued to bring up. He said it’s difficult to translate words into action when it comes to equal opportunities for all athletes, but he is committed to moving the needle.
“You gotta start somewhere,” he said. “You gotta start, and you gotta find out what works. It may be an event at the state track meet. It may be an event at swimming or bowling. Or it may be something brand new.
“(Inclusion) is different in every state, but it’s non-existent in ours.”
In the past six months, KSHSAA has come under fire for several issues, many of which fall back on taking a chance on an idea not working. One of those was adopting girls wrestling as a KSHSAA-sponsored sport.
There were 236 female wrestlers competing in Kansas high school wrestling in 2018, according to an email from Doug Kretzer, the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association women’s representative. That is up 211 percent from 2017.
More than 50 Kansas high schools have female wrestlers who competed at the second annual state championship tournament in McPherson this year. Last year, there were only 36. But in an June interview with Faflick, he said for the KSHSAA board of directors to vote on accepting a sport into the association, only 24 schools need to compete.
After years of campaigning, girls wrestling is up for a vote among the regional directors in August. By KSHSAA rules, there was no way to expedite the process.
“I like the idea of ‘Ready, aim, fire,’ ” Faflick said. “I don’t want to be, ‘Ready, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim, and never get to the point where you get to begin and implement. You can hold a kid in the blocks too long. If you hold a track kid at the start for too long, they could cramp up, and they’ll be in trouble.
“At some point you gotta start the race, but first, you gotta get in the blocks. You gotta plan, and then you gotta implement that plan.”
Faflick also talked about player safety, including football precautions and summer regulations. He said KSHSAA is always having to balance more freedom with fewer injuries.
He also said he plans to remind Kansans about what KSHSAA is about: serving as a supplement to education — not a replacement.
“The challenges will be different,” Faflick said. “The process is going to work. Will there be an emphasis on some different things? Certainly.”