You’ve seen him roaming the sidelines for many years. You’ve read his articles and his sports editorials. Sometimes you’ve probably nodded in agreement and other times winced in dissension as you took in his writings. If you’ve lived in Bureau County for any length of time, it is hard not to know of mild mannered BCR Staff Writer and Sports Editor Kevin Hieronymus.
Well this season, at least at girls’ basketball games, you can watch Hieronymus in a different capacity. He will still serve as BCR sports editor and will continue to cover Bureau County sporting events. But many nights during this winter, Hieronymus will be leaving his voice recorder and laptop at the office and picking up the white board and dry erase markers as the head coach for the Princeton High School girls’ varsity basketball team.
Hieronymus made his debut (Tuesday), a quite successful one at that. His Tigresses defeated a county foe, the LaMoille Lady Lions.
“After 26 years sitting over there on the baseline taking pictures, it feels quite a bit different here,” Hieronymus told me after the game. “It’s been 20 years since I sat here on the bench.” Hieronymus actually coached the freshman boys’ basketball team from 1988-92 at Princeton High School as well, working with the Class of ‘92 that reached the Sweet 16.
Those of us who know him realize that it has not actually been 20 years since Hieronymus has coached. It’s just been 20 years since he was paid to do so. He has been very active as a coach in youth sports in Princeton and has helped out coaching his church softball team.
His years in the youth ranks showed through tonight as every player on the squad saw the floor before the first half was complete. That deep of rotation may or may not last through the entire season, but his desire to make every player feel a part of the team and give everyone a chance – some of the primary goals of youth sports — seemed to “trickle up” to the varsity level through Hieronymus.
I was curious to see if a new side of Hieronymous would emerge tonight. I talked with assistant coach Ken Wilson, ahead of time and asked whether he thought we’d see a more animated Kevin. “Kevin isn’t too excitable about much of anything,” he responded with a twinkle in his eye.
Wilson was right. Hieronymus maintained his cool through the pressure of the first game. He instructed rather than reprimanded his players and made sure words of encouragement outweighed all others, even though much of the game was marked by some first-game sloppiness. There was no staring down or yelling at the refs, though if you stood close enough, you could hear him lobbying for some calls.
I suspect that Hieronymus will bring humility to the coach’s box. In the postgame speech he thanked the girls for the winning debut. This article itself was planned without his knowledge between BCR Editor Terri Simon and myself, nor was he exactly thrilled about the idea. He does not want to bring attention to himself and wants to make sure there is no hint of favoritism as a sports editor toward his basketball program.
Princeton fans are hoping his humble style will bring success and excitement to girls’ basketball. I’m hoping his humble style gives him an understanding mind, should my pen ever record critical comment or two while covering his games.
Good luck, Kevin! May the girls continue to make you look like a great coach.
Jeff Schlesinger is a sports writer/columnist for the BCR. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.