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Grant County boys’ basketball coach Ron Kinmon knows the impact that coaches can have on their players.
He experienced it firsthand with his college coach, Roland Wierwille, who cared more about developing good people than developing good basketball players. Kinmon played for Wierwille at Berea College.
Last year, Kinmon talked to former teammates who now coach high school basketball and each brought their teams to Berea College for a series of preseason scrimmages.
“We thought it would be great to honor our former coach and it went over well,” Kinmon said. “He was adamant about teaching us to be better men. When he saw the players he coached in leadership roles with the next generation of young men, it made him proud.”
After realizing how much it meant to their former coach to see his former players impacting youth through coaching and the support that they received from their alma mater, Kinmon and the other coaches decided to hold the first Wierwille Classic on Dec. 5.
Kinmon and the Braves were joined by Daniel Brown (Henry Clay), Jim Conway (North Laurel), Devin Duvall (Owen County), Glen Drury (Anderson County) and Willie Hill (Seven Hills, OH).
The Braves faced off against Rockcastle County High School in the first game of the day, falling 69-59.
“We need to learn how to finish on the road,” senior Mike Davis said. “We need to take care of the ball better, but we worked hard and our young players are ready to win.”
One of the major bonuses for playing at Berea College was that it gave the Braves an opportunity to play on a college court.
“It’s a new experience,” senior Isaiah Wartman said. “It’s fun and it’s pretty cool to play on the court that coach Kinmon played on.”
Wierwille died this past summer, but his former players enjoyed the opportunity to remember the impact that Wierwille and Berea College had on their lives.
“Coach Wierwille and Berea College had a great impact on my life,” Kinmon said. “I was the first person in my family to graduate from college and the college took care of me when I was down there for four years. It’s home for me away from Grant County. It’s where I met my wife. To be in Berea and recognize what those four years did for my life, it’s a great joy for me to go back down.”
Kinmon and the other coaches hope that the tournament will become an annual event.
“I think it will turn into an annual event and I think there will always be a place for us at Berea,” Kinmon said. “I think it’s a win-win scenario for everyone. You get high school players playing on a college floor and Berea is getting good recognition. But most importantly, we’re getting to recognize a man who had an impact on a lot of young men and represented the college for years and years.”
Braves open season with win over Ludlow
While the Braves fell to Rockcastle County, they started their season on a winning note, defeating Ludlow 78-67 Dec. 4.
“I was nervous because we’re inexperienced,” Kinmon said. “But we played well, dictating tempo and shooting the ball well. If we shoot the ball well, we have a chance to win any game we play.”
“We started out shaky, but we came out in the fourth quarter and took over,” Davis said. “We’re always glad to win at home before our fans.”