Tony Vis: His Love for the Game


Jersey Bilyeu

Tony Vis watches as Kennedy competes during a basketball game.

While Tony Vis may be known as Kennedy’s Government or World History teacher, how many know him as the basketball coach? For almost thirty years, Vis has been a coach and mentor for many. 

Growing up, Vis’ father played basketball and became his first coach. This set the stage for his high school years, where many of his teachers and coaches played a significant role in his career.

When he was in high school, he got his start in the coaching world with a youth team. This paved the way for his first job as an assistant coach for Waterloo Christian’s Boys’ Junior Varsity team.

Vis’ love of basketball brought him to Kennedy in 2011, to become the girls’ head coach for six years. He’s now starting his fourth year as a head coach for the boys’ sophomore team, where he plans to continue to be a coach for many years to come. As time has gone by Vis still recalls his major accomplishments as a coach.

“The first time I went to state, I was coaching in Hudson…at the end we were tied…and we made one last shot and qualified for state. And winning my 300th game as coach was pretty memorable,” Vis said.

Vis wasn’t just interested in the fun parts of the sport. He wanted to make a real impact on the members of his team. Both on and off the court. As a coach, passing on his values while preparing the players is what’s most important

“I want to make sure that they understand being on the team is a privilege not a right,” said Vis. “They have to conduct themselves well, not only on the athletic arena but also in the classroom.”

Being surrounded by basketball for almost forty years, Vis finds it rewarding working with new teams. Building relationships with not only the other coaches, but his players has kept him coming back year after year. 

“What I ask them to put out, hard work, sacrifice, responsibility, dedication, I want to make sure I’m setting that as an example and doing those same things,” Vis said.

Having coached at Kennedy for eleven years, Vis has seen how sportsmanship can be affected by even minor factors, but he doesn’t let that get in the way of what truly matters, being a coach.

“When you’re part of a team, it’s hard because a lot of times you want it to be about you. But when you’re a part of a team, it has to be about the team and what’s best for them,” said Vis.