Thursday, March 11, 2004

Coach juggling multiple jobs

By Colleen Kane
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Thomas More interim women's basketball coach Jeff Hetzer has been preparing his team for the program's second ever Division III Sweet 16 game on Friday against Wilmington.

There's just one complication: Hetzer is nearly 900 miles away.

Hetzer, who was named interim head coach in February, when Sharri Brumfield left the program, is also the head coach of the 14th-ranked Saints baseball team.

He has spent the week in Florida coaching baseball, where the Saints have gone 2-2 so far. They have two more games today and Friday, but Hetzer will be on a plane back to Kentucky this afternoon so he can make Friday's 7:30 p.m. basketball game at Thomas More.

"It's a little busy," Hetzer said with a laugh from Daytona. "But things are going well on both ends."

He's dealt with being in two places at once this week by using assistant women's basketball coach Del Walters as a middle man. Walters sends Hetzer Wilmington's game tapes and stats every night. And they spend at least an hour on the phone every day discussing practice and game strategies.

"It's a challenge, but a good challenge," Walters said. "It's worth it. One thing I like to think about is we're here for the kids ... whatever we can do to make the athletics program better."

Walters is used to juggling multiple sports, too. He is the head men's tennis coach, head cross country coach and assistant men's basketball coach.

He currently coaches two men's tennis practices a week in the mornings, and then the women's basketball practices at night.

Thomas More senior guard Jodi Schroeder said the coaches' availability was initially a concern, but said things have worked out well - even with the distance this week.

"It's obvious that (Walters) talks to Hetzer a lot during the day, and what coach Hetzer wants is conveyed through to us. Coach Walters has been great," Schroeder said. "We know how much they sacrificed for us. We know how much extra time they're putting in for us. It's great to know people are there for us."

With the Saints' win over No. 5 DePauw to advance last weekend, Hetzer became the first coach in Thomas More history to win NCAA Tournament games with two different athletics teams. Hetzer coached the baseball team to the South Regional Championship game last year.

"Hetzer has always been so confident and so positive," Schroeder said. "It has to be difficult coaching 15 emotional girls rather than guys - we kid about that ... But he makes us believe we can go all the way."

Thomas More must win two games this weekend to advance to the D-III Final Four in Norfolk-Virginia Beach, Va. Hetzer said that scenario will take priority.

If Thomas More beats Wilmington, which they defeated in the season-opener, the team faces the winner of Buena Vista and Puget Sound Saturday at 7 p.m. at Thomas More.

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