Caballero hopes to bring success as new JCHS activities director

Jefferson City High School's new activities director, Mark Caballero, is getting acclimated to his job after taking over earlier this month.

Jefferson City High School's new activities director, Mark Caballero, is getting acclimated to his job after taking over earlier this month. Photo by Julie Smith.

New Jefferson City High School activities director Mark Caballero is no stranger to success. He comes to Jefferson City High School after a successful stint at Ozark High School where winning became the norm.

But it doesn’t take long to figure out Caballero is someone who isn’t completely satisfied with the fruits of his past. He wants to continue to win at a high level and there was no better place in his eyes than Jefferson City.

“I had a very good job at Ozark,” Caballero said. “We were very successful. But it wasn’t Jeff City. That’s what really struck me was I really believe that Jeff City can be the flagship of this state. I really believe the people around me want that too.”

Caballero, who replaced Mike McGurk after he took a similar position at Lee’s Summit North, will look to continue his success at the state’s largest high school, one that is no stranger to success of its own.

Caballero comes to Jefferson City with a sports background that includes more than administration. Originally from Cedar Falls, Iowa, he began his coaching career as a football graduate assistant at Northern Iowa University after playing for the Panthers. From there he spent time at Garden City Community College (Kan.), Idaho State, Western Illinois and Missouri State.

He spent a total of 12 years at Ozark in a variety of positions, including time as an assistant wrestling and football coach before becoming the assistant activities director in 2007. He became the head activities director in 2009.

During Caballero’s tenure many of Ozark’s sports flourished. The baseball team won the state title in 2008, the volleyball team won the state title in 2009 and has been to four straight Final Fours. The softball team reached the state title game last year. Wrestling has been a perennial top-10 team for several years and football has gotten in on the act after reaching the semifinals in Class 5 last season.

He describes himself as someone who is driven and someone who wants to help students achieve the most they possibly can.

“One thing I think I’ve gathered from the Jeff City community is the expectation to do very well and do very well at all things,” he said. “That’s why I want to be in a community that expects a lot. I know our leadership here at school and our school board expects a lot. I think that’s wonderful. We should all have a high degree of push to become as good as we can to help develop programs and even future programs to meet kids’ needs and areas of interest.”

Caballero, who started earlier this month, has been busy in his first few weeks on the job making the rounds with different booster clubs, organizations and getting to know the community. He said he’s someone who likes to attend as many events as possible.

He said he’s met with coaches already but plans to meet with all of them in early August to talk about the upcoming school year.

“I’ve met a lot of people here,” Caballero said. “It’s been a very outgoing community to this point. There’s been a lot of great introductions, a lot of people willing to help. It’s been comforting to know that. It takes a lot of people to do what we do here in the school. Whether it’s employees of the district, or community people that are leaders in the community we need them too.

“There are a lot of things on the burners right now, I’ll see how good of a multitasker I am right now.”

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