Anyone expecting Steve Kimbro to stand up and brag on himself after he was handed the microphone following his final game as boys basketball coach at Nokomis High School probably doesn’t know the veteran coach very well.
Minutes after securing his 28th 20-win season at the helm of the Redskins with a 61-27 victory over Edinburg on Feb. 21, Kimbro took center stage and proceeded to heap praise on all of those who he gave credit for his 836 wins.
“On behalf of the coaches, I want to thank all of the players. It’s your blood, sweat and tears that you left out on the floor that has made you successful and has made the whole program successful,” Kimbro said. “Year after year our seniors took that intensity and passed it on to the younger kids. We told them that it was their job to teach them, not to abuse them or run roughshod over them, but to build up the future program of the Redskins year after year.”
Kimbro also thanked the fans, saying that the coaches always tell the players that they are a knowledgeable fan base that doesn’t demand perfection, but expects Redskin basketball to be played a certain way.
“(They) don’t expect you to win all of the time, but (they) do expect you to play hard,” Kimbro explained.
During the ceremony, Kimbro was presented with a plaque, with the accomplishments of each system and a laser engraved picture of all four state tournament teams displayed on it.
Kimbro’s children, Wade, Lukas and Kasey presented their father with the plaque, but Kasey also provided some additional help for her dad.
“My daughter told me I had to thank my family,” Kimbro said. “As you may know I’m fairly intense and don’t like to lose, so you can imagine how I was after those 300 games I lost. One last thank you to my number one fan, my mother.”
While Kimbro may be hesitant to speak about himself, his accomplishments are loud and clear. Since taking over as head coach at Nokomis for the 1981-1982 season, Kimbro has posted 836 wins, the fourth most wins in IHSA history and the second most for one school, with just 307 losses.
With 36 seasons with a record of .500 or better, Kimbro’s teams have posted 20 wins or more 28 times, have accumulated 15 conference championships, 15 regional championships and six sectional championships and have made four state appearances, including a third place finish in 2013 and a second place finish in 2008.
Even with all Kimbro has accomplished already, don’t expect the Redskins to coast the remainder of his last season.
“It makes you play harder. Every game you want to come out and give it your all so he can go out on a high note,” Nokomis senior Alex Tosetti said. “Knowing that he’s been doing it for 39 years at the varsity level, 42 if you count JV, you just want to play harder for him. The respect for him is just way up there. Just knowing what he’s done, you kind of want to send him off on a good note.”
The team will have the opportunity to do just that starting on Tuesday, when they start play at the Meridian Regional in Macon on Tuesday, Feb. 25, at 6 p.m. against Beecher City.
Not to be overshadowed by Coach Kimbro’s retirement, Nokomis High School also honored JV Coach Brian Pesko, who will be stepping down as JV coach after 24 years.
Coach Pesko, who coached the freshman boys for five years before taking over as JV coach, has been a crucial part of the Nokomis boys basketball program for nearly three decades, racking up an astonishing 341 wins in 411 games at the junior varsity level.
“I’ve been involved in basketball for more than 40 years, be it playing or coaching or both,” said Pesko, who numbers sixth on Hillsboro’s all-time scorers list with 1,477 points and a hall of famer at Hillsboro, Lincoln Land and the University of Central Missouri.
Coach Pesko was given a plaque by his sons, Jordan and Brendan, who also played for their father and Coach Kimbro. While his time as JV coach may be done, Pesko says that he plans to continue to coach high school baseball at Nokomis, a program that rivals the success the Redskins basketball program has had.