The University of Saint Mary hosted the first edition of “Coach’s Corner” in 2019 after a brief hiatus during the winter break.
Once again, Jim Zimmerman hosted the event where coaches from Saint Mary, Leavenworth High and Lansing High speak about their teams. This edition only featured a Lansing coach speaking about swimming. Leavenworth and Lansing wrestling coaches were not able to make it.
Zimmerman opened the edition talking about a dream he had about the Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl before his wife woke him up.
Lansing boys’ assistant swim coach David Bresser spoke first about the Lions’ season.
Bresser, with his Lansing swim pullover on, gave a brief recap of a season that has been plagued by cancelations this semester from the weather. He touched on the strong senior class and the swimmers that have already qualified for state in individual and relay events. Bresser previewed what is ahead for the Lions, including the upcoming United Kansas Conference meet at Lansing High School. He said he expects it to be a tight race between the Lions and Leavenworth. Bresser also talked about the swimmers from Basehor-Linwood that swim with Lansing and the growth of that program.
After Bresser spoke on high school swimming, Saint Mary coaches spoke.
Chuck Kearney talked about USM wrestling. Kearney touched on the success that various wrestlers have had, including Riley Jaramillo’s victory over the then-No.1 wrestler in his weight class a few weeks ago. The victory earned Jaramillo the NAIA and KCAC awards for wrestler of the week. Kearney said the team’s main focus is the national tournament and how wrestlers could qualify for the tournament regardless of their record if they have a strong performance in the conference tournament. He mentioned the wrestling team had that a season ago and the wrestler ended up being one win from all-American status. Kearney said strong wrestlers like Jaramillo could help the Spires do well at the national tournament if he qualifies. He mentioned Nic Roller’s participation as a football player and wrestler and how Roller is a “great asset.” The coach also mentioned the deficit the team has in a few weight classes. He said it is blamed on bad luck and bad recruiting. Kearney made a joke, saying he will have to get on the head coach about that. An area of good luck came from Kearney getting a wrestler at 125 pounds after exhausting eligibility in another sport to add someone in a weight class that is usually harder to fill. He touched on some upcoming meets before touching on the women’s team. He talked about the two ranked wrestlers and touched on recruiting with hopes to have a full squad next season.
Next up was esports. The Spires announced the launch of an esports program last fall and named Dew Boehm head coach. A room in Mead Hall is finishing up its conversion into the esports facility. The monitors arrived a few days prior and Boehm said the custom PCs were ready. He talked about how the tournaments will be set up, including one this weekend when Saint Mary will face Kansas State in the game “League of Legends.” With the esports facility not ready yet, the team will compete in the library. He also talked about some of the games the Spires will compete in besides “League” including “Rocket League,” “Smite” and “Fortnite.” He also said he wants to try and have a team for the popular fighting game “Super Smash Bros.” with the newest entry releasing for the Nintendo Switch in December. Due to esports still being a newer concept, a few in attendance did not fully understand all of the concepts of how tournaments work so the coach had to explain how games like “League of Legends” work. He talked a lot about how the tournaments are set up again, how the team will practice and how he handles recruiting. Boehm said he either talks to recruits either in person or through online communication. He reviews footage of their gameplay via websites like YouTube and Twitch. He also said one recruit sent footage shot from his cell phone. Boehm also touched on his successes in the competitive scene, including a North America ranking of No. 26 in “Heroes of the Storm” and top 1 percent rankings in other games. Along with the esports team using the facility to practice and compete, Boehm also said he plans on hosting various local tournaments. He also said there will be plans to stream the tournaments online once the facility is done.
The last coach to speak was Bresser again to talk about the first season of swimming at Saint Mary. He jokingly said he thinks he should tell his son to play more “Fortnite” instead of doing homework now with the growth of esports.
Bresser talked about how much the program has already grown in less than a year. He talked about how last year he was speaking at these on behalf of Lansing swimming. Bresser said the university set the program in motion in the spring, which put him behind to recruit but Bresser was able to have 11 swimmers for the first year. He said that he is having a blast with this first year. He had a lot of positives to say about the coaches at Saint Mary and talks about how welcoming and a good atmosphere the coaches have brought. For the accomplishments in the pool, Bresser talked about four events the team has national qualifiers and the multiple consideration times in. He said it is huge to have those for such a young program. He also mentioned both the men and women teams’ high GPA qualified them for the national scholar teams. Four of the five swimmers that have qualified for nationals will be academic all-Americans. He also said he didn’t expect the team to win their first meet, but the men won their first meet earlier this season. Bresser also talked about how hard recruiting can be. Saint Mary is one of two colleges in the Kansas City area that have swimming teams so he said some swimmers expect to be done after high school because of the lack of opportunity. He mentioned a girl he lost last year that went to Kansas State to be with friends instead of pursuing swimming. Bresser also mentioned the first home meet for the Spires on Feb. 2 at Lansing High School and the following week when Saint Mary, Leavenworth and Lansing swim teams will help host a Special Olympics swimming event.
Zimmerman closed the event previewing the next few days in Spires, Pioneers and Lions athletics before previewing the next “Coach’s Corner” on Feb. 7. The next edition is scheduled to feature all three schools’ basketball coaches and Alstin Benton to talk about Spires track.