Salina Chuck Culley has been at Salina South since Day One.
Culley, the current Cougar boys and girls head track coach, left Salina High (now Salina Central) for South when the school opened 25 years ago.
Before the split, competition for a varsity spot was fierce.
"I don't care if you played tiddlywinks, you had better be good," Culley said. "You didn't play varsity ball until you were a senior, and you better have been a good senior. A lot of kids didn't have the opportunity."
Now they do.
"With the two schools, we have kids coming out who know now with the limited numbers they still have got a shot to compete," Culley said. "If you're going to debate the money spent on athletic programs, the only argument you got is on participation. The more kids participate the better that program is."
Culley started teaching in the Salina district in 1961 at South Middle School. He was an assistant football coach, sophomore basketball coach, assistant track coach at Salina High.
Salina had a solid football program before the split. Culley was an assistant to Kaye Pearce, now executive director of the Kansas State High School Activities Assn.
"I can remember when Kaye Pearce was winning football game after football game," Culley said, "and the townspeople wanted him fired, not because he wasn't winning, but he wasn't winning the way they wanted him to win. They thought he was too conservative."
Culley said winning was taken for granted and the players' desire dwindled.
"There was no real emotion," Culley said. "The only emotion I saw was when they lost. That's not good. If this is going to be a positive program, the kids have to experience the highs and lows and learn to live with that and adjust."
Emotion runs rampant with two schools.
"When we win a football game or basketball game, you will see the thrill and excitement of winning that you didn't see when you have one school," Culley said.
However, state championships are rare.
"Our state championship teams are few and far between," Culley said. "It's going to be hard for people in Lawrence to accept that at first. They're going to complain and raise hell."