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Gryphon Athletics Coaches
Damon Paul will be entering his tenth (10th) season as Head Football Coach and sixth as University Academy Athletic Director. Coach Paul has been the only head coach in University Academy football history.

Coach Paul grew up in Kansas City but moved to Nebraska where he attended Benson High School. He played football, basketball, baseball, and tennis in high school. After high school, Coach Paul played football at Northwest Missouri State University. He is a proud member of the 1984 team that was the first team to ever make it to the NCAA Division II Playoffs. They also finished fourth in the Nation that year. That team was also inducted into the Northwest Missouri Hall of Fame in 1994.

Coach Paul spent seven years in the United States Army and began his coaching career in Amberg, Germany as the Head Basketball Coach for the Middle School. He has been coaching for over 20 years.

The Gryphons made their first Playoff appearance in any sport in 2008 and he has coached three All-State players: Deonte’ Paul, 1st Team Wide Receiver (2006); Auston LeBlance, 2nd Team All-State Defensive End (2008); and Darrenn White, 2nd Team All-State Quarterback (2008). He has also coached two Missouri All Star Team members: Deonte’ Paul (2007) and Joe Johnson (2009).

Coach Paul attended undergraduate and graduate school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He worked for two Fortune 100 companies in finance before starting his own business in 1998. His wife Carolyn is a Nurse and has helped him build a successful program at University Academy. Mr. and Mrs. Paul have four children: Deonte’, Erin, Desmond, and Drake.

Our goal is to build the best and most respected program in the country!
Assistant Coaches: Jamel Sims and Victoria Sims
Coach James Sims begins his fourth season as the Head Track Coach and Running Backs Coach for the Varsity Football team at University Academy. In his four years of coaching at UA, he has enjoyed the teaching aspect of coaching; whether in track or football. He believes that an athlete has to be taught the right way to perform in his or her sport in order for them to know what is they are trying to achieve and what achieving it should look like.

Last season, Coach Sims coached the Girls’ Track Team to their first ever State tract competition. This outstanding team capped off a stellar season with All-American honors and one 4th-place finish in the 4x100; one 6th-place finish in the 100m and a 6th-place finish in the 200m.

Coach Sims has coached many sports—men’s softball, women’s softball, football and track. He started coaching club track in 2000. He served as the Head Distance Track Coach for the Kansas City Sprinter Elite Track Club, where he helped many young people in their careers as runners and athletes to expand their careers to the collegiate level.

Coach Sims received his Doctorate Degree in 2001 from the Heart of America Christian College and Theological Seminary, where he taught Pastoral Theology for six years.

In addition to coaching, Coach Sims was ordained a minister in 1999 and has been serving as the Assistant Pastor for Second Baptist Church in Kansas City, Kansas, where he also serves as Dean of Christian Education. In addition, he teaches Historic Biblical Studies at the Western Baptist Bible College in Kansas City, Missouri.

Coach Sims lives with his wife, Vanessa Kay, and their three children in Kansas City, Missouri where he was born and raised.
Krista Horner is beginning the seventh year of her teaching career and her third year at University Academy. She currently teaches High School Physical Education and Health classes. Coach Horner earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Iowa State University in 2002 and her Master’s Degree from Regis University in 2008. While attending Iowa State, Coach Horner was a member of the Women’s Soccer Team. During her time here at UA, she has coached basketball and cross country.
Prior to coming to Kansas City, Missouri and University Academy, Coach Jennings spent 11 years in law enforcement and coached numerous youth teams in the Pittsburgh (PA) metropolitan area. Coach Jennings spent two seasons as an Assistant Basketball Coach at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC). Jennings was given that chance by legendary coach “William Shay”. Jennings says, “I thought I knew basketball until I coached along side Coach Shay.”

Coach Jennings graduated in 1984 from Penn Hills High School, which is located in Pittsburgh, PA. After high school, Jennings went on to play college basketball at the JUCO level in Wyoming. He then played for The University of Mary, located in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Coach Jennings will start his third season at the helm of the Gryphons. The Gryphons come off their best season in school history with a 18-9 record.
Assistant Coaches: Levette Amerison (Middle School Head Coach), Krista Horner, and Stephanie Strong
Dee Hurt is the Head Coach of the University Academy Lady Gryphons Basketball program. She is entering her second season as the Head Coach after working as an assistant coach for seven years at Hickman Mills High School. Hurt led the young squad to 13 wins in the 2008-09 season; the first time in school history that the Lady Gryphons have recorded double-digit wins. Another program first was the Lady Gryphons placing in tournament play by winning third place in the North Platte Tournament. Entering District play, the team was seeded 7th and matched up against the 3rd seeded team, Lone Jack. Hurt coached the Lady Gryphons through an overtime thriller as they fought to keep their season alive. Lone Jack won by three points, bringing the Lady Gryphon’s season to an end.

Coach Hurt had several athletes earn honors for both their work on the basketball court and in the classroom. The Lady Gryphons carried an overall team GPA of 3.1 throughout the season with many individual players earning Honor Roll Awards. Additionally, Coach Hurt coached our first Lady Gryphon to a spot on the All-District Team. Freshman A’yonna Cartwright was selected to receive this honor.

A native of Missouri, coach Hurt received her Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education and Secondary Education from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1995. She returned to UMKC in the Fall of 2001 to pursue a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and graduated with Honors in 2004. She resides with her family in Kansas City, Missouri.
Ayanna McBeth
Head Coach, Cheerleading
Shanetta O’Neal
Head Coach, Volleyball
Assistant Coaches: Karen Griffin, and Jessica Milbert
Dustin Danner
Head Coach, Baseball
Coach Danner is in his second season as head baseball coach for the Gryphons. In his 1st season as head coach Danner led the Gryphons to the most wins in school history.

Coach Danner is a native of Excelsior Springs who earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education from Northwest Missouri State in 2001. He went on to earn his Master’s Degree in Athletic. Administration from William Woods University where he is also working on his Educational Specialists Degree in Administration.

He is also the Middle School Head Football Coach and the JV Boys’ Basketball Coach.

Coach Danner resides in Excelsior Springs with his two boys, Mason and Micah.
Assistant Coach: Shane O'Neal
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