From Canton-Galva to Canton-Galva, Trimmell has come full circle in 42 years.
He started coaching at Canton-Galva 42 years ago as the junior high school girls' basketball coach. He came full circle before retiring at the end of the 2016-2017 school year from the Canton-Galva school district, where he finished up as the Athletic Director and assistant coach for varsity boys' basketball. For McPherson's Roger Trimmell the circle has provided quite an interesting and rewarding ride.
After taking a year off upon graduating from McPherson College to work at Disney World and spending a year at Canton-Galva, Trimmell spent seven years in the Haven Mount Hope school district, where he was the assistant boys' basketball coach for two years before being promoted to head coach for five more. He then returned to his college alma mater as the head men's basketball coach for 26 years. The past nine years have been at Canton-Galva, completing the circle but not his time coaching basketball, as he will be leading the Hesston High School freshman boys for the 2017-2018 season.
Trimmell sat down for a question and answer session with the McPherson Sentinel on Thursday.
Q: You have coached basketball for 42 years and are not done yet; what keeps you going?
A: Well, it was not only basketball. In high school I played all the sports. Whatever season it was, that is what you did. It wasn't the specialization like we have now. I started out coaching football, basketball and tennis. Then I think it came down to climate control. 72 degrees in the gym and so I gravitated to basketball and just love the game, love to compete, and also see players develop both in their skills in the sport and then as they grow and move on to their own career. I think all of that is really rewarding.
Q: Why Hesston this year after all these years coaching?
A: Greg Raleigh, the head coach who is the MAYB (Mid America Youth Basketball) guru called me up and said he needed a freshman basketball coach and I have known Greg for a long time, as well as the Superintendent and Matt Richardson, the girls' coach, and their program has been very successful for the last few years so I thought it was a great opportunity to stay in the game and a new challenge for me going into a new league with a lot of schools I am familiar with. It just sounded like a good opportunity.
Q: How long do you anticipate continuing to coach?
A: We'll just take this at a one year deal and see how it's going. Part of it is would they want me to come back and the other is am I still enjoying it. If I am then I will probably keep doing it.
Q: Tell us a little bit about the relationships you have with guys who have played for you and that have coached with you over the years?
A: The best example is the guys I coached at McPherson. Two years ago I had eight of my former players that we're involved in coaching in state tournaments and four of my former players won state championships. Of course you've got Kurt Kinnamon right here, Clint Kinnamon down at Saint Johns on it so that's extra special when they go on and pursue a coaching career. Every senior that I had at Mac College in 26 years graduated and I said you're not going to use this as a springboard to the NBA and I kept my promise. Nobody ever played in the NBA but I think they've all gone on the successful careers and done very well.
Q: Is the most notable as far as public recognition and fame Jonathan Coachman?
A: Yeah I would say Jonathan is the most notable. We always tried to make the first area we recruited McPherson. Most years I always had a McPherson kid on the team. And Jonathan played on a state championship team, like a lot of them did. But he was kind of the fifth guy. He played with some very good good guys and his stats were tremendous. But we got him and we weren't sure what we had so we played him on jv (junior varsity) the first game and he goes for 40 and Dave Barrett was my assistant at the time said he thought our jv was going to be pretty good. I said wrong John Wooden, that's the last four o'clock game you'll ever see him in. And he went on to become the all-time leading scorer, rebounder, assists and steals leader in McPherson College history. So that's quite an accomplishment. Two-time KCAC (Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference) player of the year, he had some honorable mentions for all-american honors too. Then he's gone on the a successful career in broadcasting, the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) and now of course ESPN. But the good thing is he never forgets his roots.
Q: When I talk to people about Roger Trimmell the one thing they all say is how good you were at recruiting Kansas kids. Is that a formula that worked then and won't work now?
A: The challenge, even back then, and I was probably more comfortable with small-town Kansas kids because that was my background as well but I wouldn't shy away from big-city kids either. But the challenge in Kansas and it is still somewhat of a challenge, is with so many junior colleges and they have to fill their roster with Kansas kids as well so often times they're taking the high profile, big city kids, so often times the smaller town kids would still be available to recruit and there is some really good basketball players that play at smaller schools. Take the Kinnamon brothers for instance at Saint John's, both were very good. When I first went there (McPherson College) I had Kelly Unruh from Canton-Galva on it. So even if I didn't get them right away and they went to a junior college, we stayed in touch so often times we were able to pick up those kids after their two years at junior college. I think it's a formula that can still work but you have to do your homework.
Q: Best part of coaching?
A: Winning! And probably going through the process. The teaching that occurs. A lot of times I enjoy practice even more than the games because you're teaching and then they go on display at game time and you see the growth and development and see how a group can come together as a team. And I think that part of it is really rewarding.
Q: Worst part of coaching?
A: You can put parents in there. And I understand that they love their kids and want the best for them and coaches love them too but we have to make decisions at times on it and then too the highs and lows of coaching. It's easy to get caught up in the wins and losses as you know but you try to avoid riding that roller coaster and try and keep things on a level plain. That's one thing we always tried to get across to our players; no loss is so devastating we can't come back and no win is like you just won the super bowl, because anytime you go that high it's going to be followed with a low at some point.
Q: Most memorable moment or moments over the years?
A: I think in a collective sense it was the fact our rival, which was Bethany College, I did put a lot of effort into those games with Bethany, kind of circled the date on the calendar and we had a stretch where we went seven straight years and that went 15 games, that we never lost to them. So we had 15 in a row over them. So that was certainly a highlight. And the challenge of playing Central Christian too, in-town rival and we only lost once to them. I think we were about 15-1 against them.
Q: When people think about or remember Roger Trimmell, what do you want them to remember most about you?
A: I hope they look back and see that we cared a great deal about our players. I think our academics record speaks for itself with all the seniors that went through and that's what attracted me to a small college is the fact that you could go to McPherson College and be involved in a lot of things and we encouraged that. We had a lot of them that got involved in the plays on campus. Rick Tyler ran a great theatre program and even I got involved in some of those things as well and the different majors that they had and the opportunities we had to work with the professors out there. So a lot of that goes beyond basketball because you're trying to develop and help young people go on and be better citizens and find a career that they enjoy and can be very successful. And of course a lot of games because, as you know, they can become emotional and you become a tight-knit group so you laugh together and you cry together and that's a good thing too.
Q: Saturday is your 39th wedding anniversary. Tell us what it's meant to have the support of your wife Vikki over all these years?
A: I'm not sure Vikki really knew what she was getting into when she married a coach and in fact in one of the first years there at Haven I had a player that wasn't doing what I wanted so I had to pull him out, actually he shot at the wrong basket, got his own rebound and shot again, so we took him out and she was sitting around a group of parents and the mother of that player hit her upside the head with her purse. So I said welcome to a coach's wife's life, now my solution is never sit around the parents and she took that to heart. But it means a lot to have their support because in a way they act as your psychologist at times because it is a long season and there are ups and downs and mountains and valleys in it so it's nice obviously to have their support. And then I had two daughters who really weren't involved in athletics, which was fine, you know whatever your passion is follow that, but they were always at the games as well, both Emily and Allie.
Q: Best piece of advice you ever got from Vikki?
A: Don't make it so serious that it effects your home life and you need to get a hobby. So I told her my hobby is basketball.
Contact Matt Cole by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MacSentinel.