The “Trimmell Tree” had far-reaching branches during the Kansas state high school basketball tournaments last week.
Four Roger Trimmell disciples guided their teams to state championships, three of them leading their schools to undefeated seasons.
Those three also happened to play for the same high school during their prep careers, St. John.
Kurt Kinnamon led McPherson High’s boys to a 25-0 record and Class 4A Division I state championship. Clint Kinnamon guided St. John’s boys to a 26-0 record and 2A state title. Matt Richardson coached Hesston’s girls to the Class 3A state crown. It was Clint Kinnamon’s third straight state title, while Kurt Kinnamon and Richardson repeated their state championships from last year.
“I think I can lump all three together,” said Trimmell, who carved out a lengthy 26-year career at McPherson College that included 370 victories and is now the athletic director at nearby Canton-Galva High School while assisting with the boys basketball team to stay around the game. “St. John appears to be the cradle of coaches here in Kansas.”
It seems like only yesterday they were lacing up their sneakers for Trimmell and were team leaders during their Bulldog days. He had no doubt all of them would be successful coaches once they left Mac.
“As players, they had a passion for the game, a commitment to excellence,” Trimmell said. “I think they just had the ‘it’ factor, a high basketball IQ. They are proactive rather than reactive. They are able to see the game in slow motion and they are quick to analyze and make adjustments in the chess match of coaching. They know how the game should be played. They approach it in a disciplined manner with a commitment to fundamentals and I think they have a vision for how they want the game to be played the right way.”
Trimmell, who will be inducted into the McPherson College Hall of Fame later this year as he’ll go in with one of his all-time great players Jonathan Coachman, had his own vision when he coached the Bulldogs after being a high school coach at Haven.
“Coach to your personality,” he said. “Blend in things from coaches and teachers you have had and fit those things to your personality and vision of the game.”
The Kinnamons and Richardson all have embraced the teachings of Trimmell and added their own particular spins.
“Coach Trimmell allowed me as a fifth-year senior to have pretty much free reign to coach the junior varsity at the college,” said Kurt Kinnamon, who has won six state titles in his 20 years at McPherson. “Tim Karstetter and I were the coaches and although Tim was probably designated to be in charge, he kind of let me do a lot of learning on my own. Coach never forced anything upon me and was always willing to help when I didn't know the answer to a particular situation, whether it be dealing with players, or parents or game strategy.”
Clint Kinnamon, as you would expect, echoed his brother’s sentiments.
“Probably the biggest thing I use that I learned from coach Trimmell was to try and be a players' coach,” he said. “Leave practice at practice and develop relationships with your players. They must see you are human, too. Players need to see that coaches like to joke around and have fun also. You just have to make sure that they know where the line is. Coach pushed us when we needed it, but then once practice was over, he was always fun to be around off the court.”
Richardson, who is probably the least demonstrative of the three as he has a calmer demeanor, said Trimmell had a great influence on him.
“Going to McPherson College and being apart of Roger’s Bulldogs was a great experience for me,” Richardson said. “I began to understand the game and see how a coach could take advantage of certain situations. Roger had a big impact on my knowledge and ability to teach the game to others. I always look back on my Bulldog days with fond memories. Connections go all the way back to St. John High School.”
The last two years have been remarkable for the coaching troika. Kurt Kinnamon’s team is 48-1 in its last 49 games and has won 40 in a row. Clint Kinnamon’s team has won its last 58 straight on-court games (59 counting a bye), a stunning 77 of its last 78 and is a threat to break Wichita Heights’ record of 62 next year. Richardson’s team is 51-1 over the last two years and has won its last 40.
Yet another common thread is that they’ve coached their offspring, as Kyler Kinnamon was a four-year standout for Kurt Kinnamon, Clint Kinnamon has coached sons Cade and Cole, and Richardson’s teams were led by his daughters Caylee and Cami.
Trimmell, who reverently has been referred to as “The Father of Dogball,” watched with much pride this weekend as there were other successes. Glenn O’Neil, who was a student assistant for Trimmell, led Scott City to the Class 3A boys’ title and the school has won state championships in four of the last five years, with current Wichita State star Ron Baker the focal point during the early run.
Adam Clark, who played for Trimmell, produced a fourth-place state finish at Central Christian in the Class 1A Division II Tournament. Tyler Stewart, the most recent McPherson College graduate of Trimmell’s proteges, led Shawnee Mission Northwest to fourth in Class 6A.
“They just did an outstanding job and I’m proud of them,” Trimmell said.
One other thought from the Kinnamons that they learned from Trimmell is about keeping the team content in terms of finding the best spots to dine.
“He also taught me the value of a team eating well when on the road,” said Kurt Kinnamon, who gathers his team together the night before a game for a meal. “He knows many of the greatest places to eat in Kansas and even the surrounding states.”
“I learned where the best eating establishments are in many towns around Kansas,” Clint Kinnamon dittoed.