MHS should name basketball court after Jeff Kind

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Jeff Kind, who was Middleton’s girls basketball coach from 1993-2002, led the Cardinals to state 12 times and into the state championship game three times./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Everywhere I went this winter, I noticed it.

Bob Suter Court at Janesville Craig.

Craig Haase Court over at Hartland Arrowhead.

Even Ab Nicholas Court at the UW Kohl Center.

In many gyms across the state, the court is named after a great coach — or someone integral in getting that facility built.

Middleton High School’s court isn’t named after anybody. But it should be.

No individual meant more to the growth of basketball in Middleton — especially the girls’ games — as Jeff Kind did.

Kind, Middleton’s girls coach from 1993-2022, was inducted into the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2018. He compiled a remarkable 578-256 career record and is the sixth-winningest girls coach in state history.

Kind retired after the 2021-2022 season and moved out of the area. But instead of letting his three decades of tremendous work fade to black, Middleton’s athletic department should step up and name its floor Jeff Kind Court.

“He worked endlessly on building our program, day in and day out,” former Middleton standout Alexis Thomas said. “Summer basketball camps, youth camps, tournaments, lifts, building personal relationships, and more. Not only did he love his players, he loved the game more than anyone I know.”

And Kind brought more success to the Middleton than any coach who ever walked the sideline.

Kind spent 30 of his 44-year coaching career at Middleton where his achievements were unparalleled.

Kind led the Cardinals to the WIAA Division 1 state tournament a remarkable 12 times. Prior to Kind’s arrival, Middleton never qualified for state.

On three occasions — 1993, 2003 and 2011 — Middleton reached the state championship game, but settled for a silver ball. Kind also finished with a 495-215 record at MHS (.697) and led the Cardinals to 11 Big Eight Conference championships.

Middleton’s 2020 team was arguably the best team of the Kind-era, going 25-1, winning 20 straight games and earning a trip to the state tournament. But as that top-ranked Middleton team sat in its Green Bay hotel less than 24 hours before the state semifinals, the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ll always say, ‘What if?’ ” Kind said of that 2020 campaign. “There’s not much you can do about it.”

Kind inherited a program that struggled before his arrival. In his first year at MHS, though, he led the Cardinals to the state championship game where they lost to Janesville Parker.

That contest featured Middleton’s Angie (Halbleib) Murphy — who finished her MHS career as the state’s all-time leading scorer — and Parker’s Jennah Burkholder, who was named the state’s player of the year in 1993. With those players as headliners, the teams competed before a sold out UW Field House in a game that changed how girls basketball was viewed throughout the state.

“I was lucky enough to have coach Kind as my coach my senior year in high school and it was my favorite year of basketball in my life,” said Murphy, who coaches Verona now and has turned the Wildcats into a juggernaut. “I loved playing for coach Kind.”

Middleton went through some lean years as Kind embarked on building the program from the ground up. By the turn of the century, though, the Cardinals were once again a power and reached the state tournament in 2001.

Middleton remained a force, reaching the state championship game in 2003. Then the Cardinals reached the state tournament nine times between 2008-20.

“I think when I started, we had a really good first year with Angie … but the program was not very sustainable at that point,” Kind said. “Then it was a big rebuild. But we got better and better and the next 20-some years we were usually one of best teams in the state. Being able to sustain that for such a long amount of time is something I’m really proud of.”

As terrific as Kind was on the bench, most that crossed paths with him declared that he was a better person than a coach. And that’s saying a lot.

“He was a tremendous coach,” said Tim Simon, a basketball and football assistant coach who worked for years in the Physics department with Kind. “Look at all of his conference championships and appearances at state. It’s pretty unparalleled.

“But as good as of a coach as he is, he’s an even better man. He’s one of the most humble, unassuming, people I know. With him, it was always about the kids, the players, the program.”

Hannah Flottmeyer, a 2019 Middleton graduate, echoed those sentiments.

“It was a privilege to be coached by coach Kind,” Flottmeyer said. “He truly cared about you as a person before a player. He was always a man of integrity and kindness and I have a lot of respect for him. He expected excellence from us and that made us achieve higher levels.”

Kind represented everything Middleton should ideally hope to stand for.

Integrity. Class. Honor. And of course, winning.

Many of those seem to have been forgotten during a football bullying scandal and the firing of an assistant wrestling coach who hugged his granddaughter.

If ever there was a poster child for doing things the right way, it was Kind. That’s why his three decades of service and success should be recognized by the school. And the best way that could happen is for Middleton’s basketball teams to be playing on ‘Jeff Kind Court’ in November.




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