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Olathe South baseball’s 43-year Perkins era ends with unexpected championship

Don and Josh Perkins Olathe South baseball
Posted at 5:41 PM, Jun 17, 2024

OLATHE, Kan. — One family has been synonymous with the Olathe South baseball program from the beginning 43 seasons ago, but the Perkins family era came to a close in fairytale fashion last month.

“The spring of ’82 was our first season,” said Don Perkins, who coached the first 25 seasons of Falcons baseball. “Fall of ’81, (Olathe) South opened, then I retired in 2006.”

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Olathe South hired his son, Josh Perkins, as an assistant baseball coach in 2007.

“Had I known they were going to hire this guy, I might have stayed around a little bit more to harass him a little bit more,” Don said.

“That would have been fun,” Josh said.

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Don Perkins

Don Perkins won 326 games, including state titles in 1986 and 1994 as Olathe South’s head coach.

A former Falcons bat boy, Josh Perkins spent two seasons as an assistant in 2007 before he was promoted to head coach for the 2009 season — a position he’s held for the last 16 seasons.

“When we started this year, I had no intent to step down,” Josh said. “If you would have asked me in March, I'm coaching until I'm retiring. My youngest son graduates in 2034, and I would have been coaching if you would have asked me at the beginning of the year.”

But things changed in mid-April.

Josh and his wife, Emily, have three young children, and he doesn’t want to miss more of them growing up than he must — a lesson that hit him hard April 14.

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Josh Perkins

“My oldest son (Reed) won a game stealing home and his team dogpiled him at home plate, then my youngest son (Jack) drove in a winning run to win the championship,” Josh recalled. “They splashed water on him, and I was there for it.”

The Perkins’ daughter, Kinley, also plays volleyball.

Reed, Jack and Kinley's sports often overlap with Josh's baseball duties in the spring.

“I’ve got a young family and kids that I wanted to be a part of their things and their activities,” Josh said. “I take a lot of pride in being ‘a Perkins has always been here,’ and it was certainly not an easy decision.”

After a conversation with Emily that morning, Josh, who’d always hoped to add a state title to the Perkins family legacy, told the Falcons baseball team on April 15 it would be his last year as head coach.

“I had to come to peace that — and it's OK — that there's a lot of phenomenal coaches that don't have an opportunity to win a state title just for whatever reason, so you surrender to that,” Josh said. “Then, our guys go and play the greatest stretch that I've ever seen.”

The 14th-seeded Falcons, who entered the postseason 11-13 overall, upset No. 3 Gardner-Edgerton and No. 6 Blue Valley to claim an unexpected Regional championship.

Seeded last out of eight teams for the Kansas 6A State Tournament, Olathe South toppled top-seeded Olathe West in the quarterfinals, fifth-seeded Free State from Lawrence in the semifinals, and third-seeded Blue Valley West in the title game to end the Perkins era in style.

It couldn't have been scripted any better.

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“Nope, I mean, you just didn't see it,” Josh said. “You didn't see it coming. I had already surrendered to the idea that it wasn't — I was going to be OK if we didn't win it. But I love this group, this team.”

Don, of course, was at Hoglund Ballpark in Lawrence to watch Josh end his head-coaching career — and the Perkins era of Olathe South baseball — in style.

“It was awesome; it was wonderful,” Don said. “When I got to talk to him after the game, he came up and gave me a hug and he said, ‘What just happened?’ But that's how it is. When it happens, that's how it is, so it was outstanding. I'm really proud of him.”

Josh said his days as a baseball coach may not be over. When his kids are grown, he may come back as a sub-varsity coach — and, of course, it would be with the Falcons — but his days as a head coach are finished.

He will, however, remain an assistant football coach, keeping the Perkins family’s streak of consecutive Olathe South football seasons with one of them on staff intact.