After coaching for the Excelsior Springs School District for 27 years, one life-long Tiger recently decided to embark on the next chapter of her life, with a move to become the operations manager of the Excelsior Springs Community Center.
Terri Irons’ years as one of Excelsior’s most celebrated coaches came with being voted Favorite Coach by the community in The Standard’s Community of Excellence Awards, celebrating 200 career volleyball wins and being voted into the Excelsior Springs Athletic Hall of Fame with her 1998 State Championship softball team.
However, for Irons, her greatest accomplishments come from watching her students achieve.
“I feel like ... as a teacher and a coach, my biggest successes come because of their biggest successes,” she said. “Anything that I’ve achieved is because of them and their willingnesses to commit to me and so, I want to celebrate those things for them.”
Activities Director Joe Greim said he and Irons grew up together. He said he cannot begin to describe her importance to the school.
“She’s a Tiger in the truest sense of the words,” she said. “She’s got a passion for Excelsior Springs, she’s got a passion for Tiger programs and Tiger athletics.”
Irons began her teaching career as a middle school science and physical education teacher at Pleasant Hill. While at Pleasant Hill, she also coached middle school volleyball and high school softball. She also served as the wrestling cheer sponsor.
After her three-year stint with the Roosters, she returned to the Tigers as a middle school science teacher and assistant softball coach. After two years, she moved up to the head softball coach position.
In 1999, she moved to the high school to teach science and later, in 2007 became the head volleyball coach, where she remained for 13 seasons. For the past seven years, she’s also taught high school physical education.
In addition to her school duties, Irons can often be found working at basketball games and track meets. She said she likes to stay busy.
Irons doesn’t just limit her involvement to athletics. She can also be found celebrating those involved with all clubs and activities.
She said the activities make high school fun and she wants to support each one doing what they enjoy, be it athletics, music or anything else.
“I like to see them going what they love,” she said. “That’s the fun part and I’m sad when kids can’t find the thing that they love. I’m always pushing them to find something that they enjoy.”
Greim said he describes Irons as “everybody’s biggest fan.” She stays involved in all the athletic programs. She’s supportive of all the arts programs.
“She’s here for the kids,” he said.
Irons leaving will leave a hole in all the programs, he said. She serves as a mentor for other coaches. She gives the credit to the kids. She helps organize tailgates to support other athletic programs. She works throughout the summer to get Tiger athletes in shape.
Finding a volleyball coach will not be difficult, he said. Finding a physical education teacher will be easy. Greim said they’ll find someone great for the kids. Replacing Irons and her legacy, however, will not be easy.
“I don’t think you can think of Excelsior Springs High School without thinking of Terri Irons and her impact on kids,” he said. “ ... You just don’t replace a legend overnight. You just don’t do it.”
Irons said while she finds that thought flattering, she believes everyone has something to give. She doesn’t think she did anything out of the ordinary, she just did what she loves.
For Greim, watching a dear friend walk out the door will be difficult. He said while he’ll continue to see her, he’ll miss the day-to-day interactions.
“It’s been a fun ride,” he said. “I’m excited for her ... I can’t say what I feel because there’s not enough words to describe the importance she is to this community, to these halls. You can’t fathom it”
Irons will continue to invest in the community. That’s always been a priority for her, she said. That commitment to Excelsior goes beyond the school. Irons said she wants to help the community grow.
As for the high school, she said she believes change can be good. Someone new and motivated will take her place and take the program in new and exciting places.
“It’s been a fantastic place to work. I’ve made lots of friends here and built lots of relationships. I’m sad to be moving on in some ways, ... it’s time to turn the reins over to somebody else and see what they can do.”