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RBHS Grad Doing Well in His First Season as Varsity Head Coach

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RBHS Grad Doing Well in His First Season as Varsity Head Coach

Rob Pipher

Rob Pipher

Rob Pipher

Alex Sievers, Staff Writer

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After losing their head girls basketball coach last year, Red Bud High School had to find a new coach. To fill the needed spot, they found Jacob Kueker. Kueker was born and raised here in Red Bud. As a kid, all he wanted to do was play in the NBA, but as Kueker stated, “… then I grew up a little bit and realized that was very impossible, or not impossible but very unlikely…” After his revelation, Kueker then set his sights on college basketball. Due to his skill on the court, several different colleges attempted to recruit Kueker, but, with the help of his mom, he chose to attend college at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois.

He went to Millikin for a Physical Education and Special Education Endorsement. He then taught Special Education at Wheaton, Illinois, for his first year of teaching. He was able to help grade schoolers learn and make leaps and bounds in their education and ability.  The only reason he does not teach Special Education anymore is due to the paperwork, which, as he says, is “astronomical” and takes away from the teaching aspect and hinders his ability to make the change he wants to. He then started looking for a P.E. position and found one at North Clay, Illinois. He then looked at his situation and decided that it was not it for him. He started looking, found an opening, and decided it was time to come back to Red Bud where he took a job as Weightlifting Teacher and Girl’s Head Basketball coach.

During his time on the Milliken basketball team, not only did he learn about the game, he learned more about hard work and work ethic than he ever thought he would. He takes his experiences and puts it into his classroom and his basketball team. He sees himself not as a teacher of Physical Education, but as a teacher of effort. He wants to teach kids that “they can do a lot of things if they really push themselves farther,” and he wants kids to, “…push themselves past what they… thought they could.”

As a coach, Kueker says he carries his experiences with him. He says, “If you don’t bring the effort, then I don’t want you at practice ‘cause you’re just wasting my time and everyone else’s.” He shows this with his practices, especially with his willingness to kick people out of practice. Of course, this is not out of malice, but because that player will then come back to practice the next day and work the hardest they have ever worked. He expects 100% from his players and it shows in their playing. The team currently has a 13/13 record, which is even more impressive with how young the team is.

With the success of the varsity team, he wants to make sure that he is not forgetting about the underclassmen. He always has Freshman and JV games scheduled to increase the playing level of the younger players and to give them more experience playing together. He knows and understands that they are the team’s future and that they need to be taught and continually improved so that the team can have a positive future.

While still keeping in mind the cohesiveness of the younger teams, he also maintains constant watch over the Varsity. He is always looking to better his teams, even if that means bringing a freshman on Varsity because, as he states, “I don’t care how old you are, I don’t care what your last name is, I want to win basketball games… so, if you’re going to be out there busting your tail, there is a good chance that you’re going to be on the court.”

Walking into the season, Kueker did not know what to expect. He walked in with a blank slate. At the end of the school’s first semester, Kueker said that he thought the team was underachieving. With that said, he knew that the girls had come a long way. He even brought up how the girls had lost to Waterloo, but they came back a second time and beat them. He attributes underachieving to the fact that he and the whole coaching staff is new and the youngness of the team. Realizing that though, Kueker says that they have a lot of room to grow and that they will grow quickly. “We are learning at a more rapid pace… I’m hoping come regional time we might get a five seat, six seat, four seat. But I think we might be able to upset some teams.” At the beginning of the season, Kueker and his assistant coaches sat down and laid out the goals for the season. To no surprise, they put winning Regionals on the list; but, as a side goal, Kueker hoped for the team to make Red Bud history and be the first team to win Conference. Obviously Kueker has a lot of faith in his team and is looking to the future with high, but achievable, hopes.

Kueker looks forward to the next couple of years. He looks at his team and sees his two Seniors, 4 Juniors, and 8 Freshman and Sophmores. To him it is a team full of potential that can go no where but up. He has no doubt in his mind that they will win a Conference or Regional Championship, “in the next 3,4,5,6,7 years.” With that said, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Kueker is not going anywhere; he is here to stay.

With the future in mind, Kueker looks to improve his program. He plans to attack this upcoming summer by holding more practices to keep the girls playing and to continue to work on their skills. He also looks to have structured practices that improve different aspects of his player’s games.

Kueker and his staff are always looking to the future while keeping the present in mind. With a plan for the future, the girls basketball team could not be in better hands.

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