I always say the most influential coaches in athletes career are at junior high. My coach was and will always be Stormin’ Norman Mueller of Atlanta, Ill., whom I’ve made mention over the years.
One of the guiding lights in junior high sports in Bureau County has passed her torch. Kaye Pearson’s coaching career has officially come to a close with the end of the volleyball season after 24 years at Princeton Logan Junior High and 34 years overall.
Pearson arrived in Bureau County in 1980 out Millikin University at Malden High School, coaching volleyball for three years.
The Franklin Center native made the county circuit, teaching at LaMoille and Ohio high schools, while coaching freshman volleyball at Princeton (1983 and 1984) and the varsity at Ohio from 1985-89.
She was hired at Logan in 1990, the start of a run of winning Lionesses teams. She also took part in PHS’ 1990 State championship run.
Pearson compiled at 322-105 record at the eighth-grade level at Logan and 520 career wins overall.
But the wins are not what Pearson values most. It was always the kids.
“I think the most rewarding thing about coaching is the unique relationship you develop with your players,” she said. “It has been so much fun working with so many awesome young people throughout the years. I love it when they catch that passion for the game and just enjoy being part of the team. It’s been rewarding to see them grow as athletes and as young adults.”
Pearson said she was blessed early in her career to coach under Rita Placek at PHS and later with Bea Coates at Logan.
“They were both wonderful mentors and taught me so much. Both of them were huge influences on my coaching style,” she said. “I really want to thank all of the players, parents, fans and most of all my family for giving me the chance to make a dream come true. It’s been a great run.”
• I also want to make mention of another influential area junior high volleyball coach. Deb Brokaw has coached at Cherry Grade School the past sevens seasons, sending many players into starting positions at Hall High School. It is a position heading for an end with Cherry scheduled to close its doors at the end of the school year, sending its students to Dimmick
She would like to continue to coach. Her daughter, Hayleigh, will follow the Cherry kids to Dimmick.
“I cannot tell you how hard it will be next year watching our Cherry girls and not coaching,” she said.
Brokaw always has high praise for her players, and it is that connection she will miss most.
“I think the most rewarding part is just seeing the girls improve as players, and I am so proud of how many have gone to Hall and earned starting positions there,” she said. “I think the thing that makes me smile most as a coach is when my girls make their first serve over the net in a game.”
While Brokaw shrugs off any praise, a Cherry parent said the Comets coach “teaches the girls not only how to play the game, but also teaches them the value of being a good sport and being a team player.” Also, Brokaw is a passionate coach, and “you can see she loves the game.”
Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.