Kiley Roelfs, former players speak on decision to step away as Pittsburg boys head coach

"It went by very quickly. My two sons basically grew up in this program."

After 21 years leading the program, Kiley Roelfs has decided to step away as the head coach of the Pittsburg High School boys basketball team.

“You always hear the phrase you’ll know when you know, and you’ll know when it’s time,” Roelfs says,”It just became an obvious thing that it was the right thing to do for our program. It was time for somebody else to take the reigns and for a new voice to be in charge.” 

Roelf informed the players through a video call on Thursday night.

“I thought I had it all together last night when that whole meeting started,” Roelfs adds, “It didn’t take long before I didn’t have it all together.”

“I didn’t feel like it was real, because it just doesn’t seem like somebody like him should retire,” says Gavyn Elkamil, who just finished his playing career at PHS earlier this year, “He’s such a great coach. But everybody has to stop at some point.” 

Roelfs won 248 games as the Purple Dragons’ head coach. He led the team to four straight SEK league titles from 2016-2019, and three straight appearances at state from 2017-2019.

But the best part of his career; getting to coach both of his sons, Drew and Grant.

“It went by really quickly,” he adds, taking a long, reflective pause, “My two sons basically grew up in the program.” 

“Not only did I get to play for him in high school, but I got to play for him in youth leagues and stuff like that,” his son Drew says, “It was one of the best times of my life. It was a lot of fun. I have a lot of memories from that stuff.” 

“It’s a different experience getting yelled at more and stuff like that,” Grant says about playing for his father, “but it definitely was fun.”

As for his favorite moment of the last 21 years, that’s an easy one; watching his son Drew knock down the game-winner in the 2018 sub-state championship to send the Dragons to the 5A state tournament.

“There’s still times when that moment doesn’t seem real,” coach Roelfs says, “It’s like, did that really happen?” 

“I mean that’s probably going to be my favorite sports memory forever,” says Chase Curtis, former Pittsburg High School standout, “It was just really cool seeing everybody run after Drew and just coach Roelfs putting his arms up.”

“That’s probably one of the best days of my life,” Drew adds, “Probably his, too. “

Although his time as Pittsburg’s head coach is over, the impact Roelfs had on the program and the players will last for a long time.

“He always just made sure he did everything the right way,” Curtis adds, “He taught us to do things as hard as you can and do it the best you can. That’s what I’ve learned from him. Never try to find the easy way out of it no matter how hard it is,”

“He was a great person to be around,” Elkamil says, “He always told us to be givers not takers.” 

“I had great players, great assistant coaches, supportive parents, supportive administration and a very supportive community,” coach Roelfs finishes, “You can talk to…a lot of high school coaches out there that could probably spend hours telling you horror stories about their situation. I can’t do that. I’ve just been very blessed.” 

While Roelfs has given up his positon as head coach, he still plans to stay and teach with the Pittsburg school district.