Herkelman content as Coffeyville coach

03/15/2011 12:00 AM

03/15/2011 12:06 AM

The phone rings in Jay Herkelman's office. It is the early part of spring. On the other end is an athletic director who needs a men's basketball coach. He thinks Herkelman is the guy.

And with good reason.

In his 16 years at Coffeyville Community College, Herkelman has won 424 games, more than any men's coach in the history Jayhawk Conference. He has also won six Region VI titles, all in the last 10 years, and 10 Jayhawk East titles.

The court at Nellis Hall, where the Red Ravens play, is also named after him.

So Herkelman, who prides himself as a prudent man, will always listen to the school's pitch. But his answer is always the same.

"The situation is never as good as the one I have here," Herkelman said. "Not only do I have a good job, but it's nice to know you're somewhere where people have your back."

After last week's 73-69 win over Seward in the Region VI title game, Herkelman once again has his team in the NJCAA tournament, where they open play against top-ranked Missouri-West Plains at 8:30 tonight at the Sports Arena in Hutchinson.

The Red Ravens (30-4) lost to Dixie in the 2002 national championship game and finished third in 2007.

"Where we're at now with our program is that we get kids to come play here because we've been so successful, because they want to come play for a winner," Herkelman said. "They want to come play for teams that play for conference and regional championships every year. The tradition we've built is what brings them in."

When Herkelman came to Coffeyville in 1995 after spending time as an assistant coach at Fort Hays State, Eastern New Mexico and Northeastern Oklahoma, it was a school known almost entirely for its rich football tradition. Seventeen years had passed without a league title in basketball.

One year later, Herkelman delivered his first title.

Sixteen years later, it's the basketball program that defines athletic success at the once-upon-a-time football school.

"He's got a thing going, basketball-wise, that's hard to match," Coffeyville athletic director Jeff Leiker said. "He's been good for this community and he's important to the people who live here and who come out to support the team. Likewise, this has been a good place for him to raise his family and we feel like that we have been able to take care of him and reward the great success that he's had here."

Cloud will represent Region VI at the women's national tournament in Salina at the Bicentennial Center, taking on Northern Oklahoma-Enid at 6:15 p.m. today.

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