Jody Adams-Birch leaves a brief, yet meaningful legacy in Derby

DERBY, Kan. (KWCH) -- Jody Adams-Birch is leaving Derby High School after one year with the Girls Basketball program. The former Wichita State head coach is taking an assistant coaching role at Southern Illinois University, another Missouri Valley Conference school.

As she leaves the Panther program, however, Adams-Birch leaves behind a brief yet important legacy.

"I remember her saying that she was honored that I asked her, so I was blown away by her humility," said Derby Head Coach Jodie Karsak. "And with that, I remember saying 'I feel like we've won the lottery.'"

The Panthers won the proverbial lottery and their first 6A girls basketball state title in program history. After a two-point loss in the 2017 state title game, Karsak knew Adams-Birch would be the missing piece.

"I had to think about all of the things that people were going to maybe say about me. But I was confident enough in our program already and proud enough to think that she would want to be a part of it."

Adams-Birch became part of the Panther family, and shared with them a piece of her former family: her late coach and a basketball legend, Pat Summitt from her time playing at the University of Tennessee.

"It was the two-year anniversary of her coach's death, and I said 'Jody, you are the closest any of us will ever get to Pat Summitt.' And she said 'Wow, I never thought of it that way'."

That was the humility Coach Karsak mentioned and always appreciated.

"She left a mark on us, not just on the court right, we all know that she can coach x's and o's, but she left a mark on our hearts. She got to share her faith with us, her story with us, and she really was vulnerable and opened up to us. It was really neat to have that whole package of Jody Adams-Birch."