Coach’s Kid Kimbro Learned At School Of Hard Knocks
Published in the State Journal-Register
By DAVE KANE
Published Wednesday, November 21, 2007
The boys basketball practices overseen by Nokomis High School coach Steve Kimbro are not
fun and games. His son, current Nokomis senior forward Wade Kimbro, got a preview of things
to come four years ago. You might say the younger Kimbro had an advantage as his father gave
him a head start on what it takes to become a varsity player at Nokomis. But he quickly learned
what hard work really meant.
“It was my eighth-grade year, and (his father) brought me in for practice during the holidays,”
Wade recalled. “They didn’t play in a holiday tournament, so it was like an extended break. They
tried to make up for it with a lot of intensity in practices.
“I got knocked around a few times by the varsity guys. I had to grow up pretty fast. But I figured it
out, I guess. I took what I learned in here and took it back to our practices. We made it to the
(eighth-grade) Elite Eight that year.”
Nokomis has one of the most consistently successful programs in central Illinois, and a lot of it
has to do with continuity. Steve Kimbro is entering his 27th season with a career record of 534-
But much of it starts at the junior high level, where young players learn how to play Nokomis’
trademark ball-press defense. But they also learn about being in condition.
“I made Wade run with the varsity that day,” Steve recalled of his son’s initiation. “We run
sprints, and they have to make a certain time. Wade didn’t make his time, so the varsity had to
run with him again.
“I remember (then-senior) Kenny Bartle dragged Wade up and down the floor. Kenny actually
got behind him and pushed him. Wade learned that he could make his time. He found out he
wouldn't die if his body said, ‘Go a little slower,’ but he knew he needed to go faster.”
Wade is one of five seniors on this year’s team, which is favored to win its third straight Prairie
State Conference title. He moved into the lineup during his sophomore season, when Nokomis
went 31-3 and won its first sectional title in 10 years. That was followed by a regional title last
But being the preseason favorite doesn’t mean Wade and his teammates are taking anything
for granted. Living under the same roof as the head coach keeps the 6-foot-3 senior focused,
even though his father tries to avoid “bringing basketball home with us. There’s no sense going
through two more hours of it at home after going through two hours at the gym.”
But his son tries to hold himself to a higher standard.
“Everyone you talk to will say there’s more expected of me,” Wade said of his distinction as son
of the coach. “It’s just understood. I know it’s expected, and I try to meet that.”
Steve and his wife of 29 years, Susan, have two other children: daughter Casey, who’s a junior
at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, and son Lucas, who’s in seventh grade. Susan said it’
s been rare for father and son to air any grievances about each other’s style.
“Wade is a pretty closed-mouth person; he doesn’t say a whole lot,” Susan said. “When he was
younger, there was maybe one time they were mad at each other when they came home. They
just went to their separate corners and didn’t talk much. But I haven’t had to intervene.
“I know when Wade was playing baseball in Little League, his dad tried to help him, and
Wade's attitude wasn’t very good. In those years, he struggled with the thought of what it might be
like when his dad would be the coach. But he’s come to terms with that.”
Steve, who hopes to keep coaching a few more years, sometimes thinks about next season,
when Wade will have moved on to college. At least the coach should have one other Kimbro on
the team next season: his nephew, current junior Troy Kimbro.
“I don’t know if it’ll be emotional,” Steve said, referring to the end of this season. “We don’t
express a lot of emotion. We’re kind of thick-skinned, I guess.
“But when he’s gone, yeah, I’ll miss him for what he’s brought to the floor. He’s become a verbal
leader at times, but he’s been a leader through hard work. He does it by show, like ‘This is how
you do it.’ He’s a quiet leader who goes out and does his job. I’m very proud of that.”