What Steve Kimble accomplished in seven seasons as head coach of the Brainerd Warriors girls' soccer team obviously appealed to other programs.
So when Kimble expressed interest in the vacant women's soccer position at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph the Blazers' interest was piqued.
On Monday, St. Benedict athletic director Carol Howe-Veenstra announced that Kimble has been hired as the Blazers' head women's soccer coach and also will serve as an assistant athletic director.
He takes over the soccer program and administrative position from Kate McNeil, who resigned in May.
"It's really bittersweet," Kimble said of leaving Brainerd. "I had the toughest time preparing myself to tell the kids.
"I think the reason I've been successful is that I've built strong relationships. When you do that underclassmen are like family. It was really hard to tell them we're not going to be together this fall.
"Obviously, I have value in (the Brainerd) program. I care quite a bit about it. It's been my project. I don't want to leave it in shambles. I'm willing to do whatever it takes to help (Brainerd activities director) Todd (Selk) find someone to continue the tradition."
Kimble informed Warrior players of his decision at a tournament in Blaine last weekend.
"I wanted to tell them before it came out in the paper," he said.
Kimble compiled a 99-23-8 record with the Warriors. His teams made two state tournament appearances and won four Central Lakes Conference titles. Brainerd has played in five consecutive Section 8-2A finals. Kimble was named section coach of the year twice.
"Steve has developed the Brainerd girls' soccer program into a consistent and proven winner," Howe-Veenstra said in a news release. "He also has a strong educational background as a graduate of St. John's (University) and has spent significant time on the CSB campus as an education major."
Selk thanked Kimble for his years of service.
"Under his leadership this program has risen to one of the top in the state," Selk said. "We have enjoyed participating in five straight section championships, winning two of those. Certainly, we will miss Steve, but we support his decision and wish him nothing but the best as he takes the next step in his athletic career.
"The position will be posted internally and externally and we will move forward with finding a replacement."
Kimble's years of administrative experience also was attractive to St. Ben's. He has served as director of coaching and player development for the Lakes Area Youth Soccer Association in Brainerd. He is a camp director for Coerver Coaching and North Central Soccer.
From 1995-2002 he was involved in the Central Minnesota Youth Soccer Association in St. Cloud as director of coaching education and as a coach.
He holds a United States Soccer Federation B license and a National Soccer Coaches Association of America Advanced National diploma.
He also has been pole vault coach for the Warriors' track and field team since 2002. This past school year he taught sixth grade social studies and language at Forestview Middle School in Baxter.
Kimble received his bachelor of arts degree from St. John's in elementary education with a concentration in social studies in December 1999. He earned his master's degree in educational leadership from Southwest Minnesota State University in 2007. He is currently working on his second master's in sports management at St. Cloud State.
As a member of the track and field team at St. John's, Kimble was an All-American in the decathlon, a three-time MIAC champion and a five-time All-MIAC selection. He still holds the decathlon school record.
From 1998-2002, he was an assistant girls' soccer coach and track and field throws coach at Sartell High School. Following college, he was an assistant track and field coach at St. John's in the spring of 2000.
As an athlete at Sartell, Kimble was a member of the Sabres' 1994 Class 1A state football championship team and was an all-state defensive end. In 1995, he won the Class 1A discus state championship.
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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