Southern State Community College has announced that Whiteoak High School graduate Blake Kibler has been named the men’s head basketball coach. Kibler will take over the reigns of a team that didn’t have a team last year because of academic issues.
Kibler, a 2005 Whiteoak who then moved on to Southern State Community College for his associate’s degree before his bachelor’s in special education degree at the University of Cincinnati, is currently attending Concordia University for his master’s in special education. He is a special education teacher at Hillsboro Elementary and calls it his dream job.
Kibler played vasity basketball all four years at Whiteoak, which included a state final four trip his freshman year, elite eight appearance his sophomore year, district semifinals in his junior year, and district finals at the end of his senior year. After he graduated from Whiteoak, he went on to play basketball for Southern State.
Kibler says he has always wanted to be a coach and has had some great experiences to keep pushing him that direction.
“My whole basketball career I knew I wanted to coach,” Kibler said. “I had some really good coaches along the way that really sparked my interest of coaching basketball. Just having an influence on kids makes it all worthwhile. Coach Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K) at Duke University has also been a huge influence for me on coaching basketball.”
Kibler said that the process of becoming a coach was relatively simple.
“Someone who I know very well came up to me and asked if I would be interested in coaching basketball at SSCC. So I applied and had the interview and now I’m here,” he said.
Kibler says that he and the team have been having a blast this summer getting ready for what he thinks will be a successful season.
“The AD who was hired shortly before I was is taking good care of me, along with a few other people,”Kiber said. “This is a great school, and a great environment for our student/athletes. The basketball facility is beautiful. We have had a few practices and a lot of open gyms. I have met all the players and I don’t know if I have ever met a finer group of young men. Not only do they have a lot of basketball talent, they have a lot of ‘off the court talent’ as well. We are really excited to get the season rolling.”
In the past, the SSCC men’s basketball team was one that featured more of an outside look rather than a local look. This year’s team has several local players fresh from their senior years of high school and Kibler is looking forward to working with them.
“I think recruiting locally is huge for our community. It opens up a lot of doors for our kids who may not want to travel far to go to college or are afraid of the cost of college. This will provide an outlet for our local kids who want to take their basketball game to the next level. Of course, I would still recruit someone who is not local, but wants to play for SSCC and who is fully committed on and off the court. I am looking for kids who are not only good on the court, but off the court as well (academics, represent the school well, etc.).
“I think we will do well, just depends upon how well we get prepared for the college game. It is very different from high school. The floor is bigger, 35-second shot clock, play is a lot faster, and the competition is going to be very good. Also, it is going to depend upon how well we get our players used to playing their specific roles within the team. It is often times difficult for players to adjust to certain roles because they were usually the best player on their high school team where they had to do a lot more.
“It is going to take a lot of preparation to be successful in our league. We will play a lot of high-level competition almost every game, but I feel we have a strong team who has a lot of talent to do some very good things on the court and win some ball games.”
In closing, Kibler wanted to send out a thank you to Southern State and his family and friends.
“I just want to say how blessed I am to be in this position I am in and want to thank Southern State Community College for giving me a chance to coach,” Kibler said. “I want to thank my wife and family. I also want to thank coach Pat Hines, who has coached the game for years and who knows the game better than anyone I have ever known. He has been a big part of my life and mentor who has showed me what it takes to be a good coach. I want to thank J.R. Roush, Matt Wells, Heather Miller and Elizabeth Burkard for all the support and help they have given me since the time I have been here at SSCC. I also want to thank my assistant coach, Jeremy Hatfield, who has been a huge help. I want to thank all the coaches that I have had an opportunity to coach with or alongside. I have coached with a lot of people who know the game and who are wonderful coaches. I am really excited to see how well our basketball program grows and develops. We are headed in the right direction already, which makes me very excited.”
Robert Stegbauer is a staff-reporter for the Times-Gazette and can be emailed at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at RStegbauer.