Hall comes calling for Kind

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Middleton girls basketball coach Jeff Kind will be inducted into the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in September./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Jeff Kind was a first-year teacher at Cuba City back in 1978. And due to the diminutive nature of his paycheck, Kind signed up for as many coaching jobs inside the building as he could find.

“Freshman football, freshman boys basketball and assistant baseball … and my contract to teach and coach all of those was for $9,400,” Kind recalled. “When I got my first job at Cuba City, it was almost a necessity because they paid you so poorly.”

Coaching has always been a labor of love for Kind, who found his calling in girls basketball and has been Middleton’s head coach since 1992.

The game has always loved him back, as well. And recently, Kind received the ultimate prize.

Kind was named to the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. There will be a ceremony on Sept. 29 at The Wilderness in Wisconsin Dells.

“It’s humbling,” Kind said. “A lot of years of coaching, a lot of great kids, a lot of great assistant coaches. I’ve been really fortunate to be around a lot of good people. It pays to hang around a long time, I guess.”

There’s a good reason Kind has “hung around.” It’s that he’s extremely good at his craft.

Kind coached the freshman boys in Cuba City for four years, then coached the Cubans’ girls varsity for five seasons. Kind then coached girls’ varsity basketball at Kohler for five years before taking the Middleton job in 1992.

At MHS, Kind has turned the Cardinals into a state power, leading Middleton to the WIAA Division 1 state tournament 10 times.

Middleton reached the state championship game in 1993, 2003 and 2011 before settling for second place. Prior to Kind’s arrival, the Cardinals had never reached the state tournament.

Overall, Kind has compiled a 439-186 record at Middleton and led the Cardinals to nine conference championships. And when news of his Hall of Fame induction broke, many of his former players were ecstatic.

“Playing for coach Kind was not only a great honor, but also just a great experience,” said Elizabeth Norregaard, a 2015 Middleton High School graduate. “The way he treated his players, how he ran practice and the whole structure around the program made him feel like much more than just a coach. Being named to the Wisconsin Coaches Hall of Fame is extremely well deserved!”

Liz McMahon, a three-year standout and a 2014 MHS graduate, agreed with Norregaard.

“Looking back on my three years playing for coach Kind, I can say he is one of the smartest coaches around,” McMahon said. “He does a great job working with each team and each player, helping us all to improve and play at our highest level.

“He puts so much time and energy into every season, and he truly cares about every player. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to play for such a driven, smart, and caring coach. He really is one of the best.”

Madeline Staples was an honorable-mention all-state player during her senior season of 2012. Staples was thrilled when she heard the news about Kind, and fondly recalled a unique teaching practice her former head coach employed.

“I remember at the start of every practice he would share a quote or a story that we would write down in a journal he provided to help us get ready for that practice, but it also expanded our knowledge of the game and taught us life lessons outside the game,” Staples said of Kind. “I still have all four of my journals from my high school career. 

“Coach Kind always motivated me to be my best self on and off the court. I will always remember the intensity and energy he brought to practice to help us get better.”

Alexis Thomas, a Cardinals standout from 2014-'17, felt an award like this was long overdue.

"It's about time he receives an award like this," said Thomas, who now golfs collegiately for North Dakota State. "Playing for him was definitely a blessing. He always pushed me to my full potential and never gave up on me.

"Win or lose he always had a positive attitude and that certainly played a role in our success over the years. Not only did he coach me in basketball, but in life, too, and that really stands out."

Kind said one of the best lessons he learned came early in his career from legendary Cuba City boys coach Jerry Petitgoue.

“One of the really great things he taught me was just to have that passion for it and bringing energy as a coach,” Kind said of Petitgoue. “Even at his age, he’s probably pretty energetic down there. That was a good start.

“Four years down there coaching for Jerry. You can’t have a better role model to watch and learn from.”

Kind took it and ran from there.

He’s built a program at MHS that’s extremely successful on and off the court. He’s won more than 70% of his games. And he’s helped make countless young women better basketball players and people.

“Although, I was sad about leaving the Middleton basketball community as a whole, the thing that brought me the most sadness was not having coach Kind as a coach anymore,” said Carlee Lemirande, a 2017 MHS graduate. “He works harder than any coach I know and has the biggest heart for the game and for his players.

“He cared so much about the game, but also he genuinely cared about his players and that's not something you find in every coach. Coach Kind deserves all the recognition for his hard work, dedication, passion and heart. I couldn’t have asked for a better coach throughout my entire high school career.”

A coach that’s now headed to the Hall of Fame.

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