By Dan Truttschel~Sports Correspondent
As a Wilmot High School graduate, Jerod Boyd knows full well the intensity of the Wilmot-Westosha Central rivalry when it comes to any athletic competition.
Now as a coach, he’ll learn that part of it as well – only from the Central perspective.
Boyd, 28, recently was hired as Central’s new varsity girls basketball coach. He replaces Ruth Buehler, who led the program for one season.
And it’s safe to say he can’t wait to begin.
“This is my first varsity gig, so I’m real excited just to have my own program,” Boyd said. “I’m real excited to finally get to utilize my basketball knowledge to run a program myself.
“I just really appreciate (Central Athletic Director) Jon (Lindh) giving me a chance.”
Boyd comes to Wilmot after he spent three years as the Burlington JV girls coach.
That familiarity with the area and the Southern Lakes Conference made the job at Central appealing, he said.
“I know them because I’ve played in the conference before,” he said. “They have a lot of potential at all levels. That kind of drew me there.”
Boyd, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and a special education teacher at Burlington, said he’s already seen that potential beginning to grow.
Just in the few weeks since the school year ended, the gym and the weight room have consistently been filled with many basketball players who hope to improve their skills, Boyd said.
And that’s the first step toward success.
“I’ve had been 12 and 15 girls at 6 (a.m.) workouts,” he said. “I have kids showing up at open gym. I just see a lot of kids who really want to learn the game, a lot of kids who are really passionate like myself.”
Among the challenges he faces as a first-year head coach is changing the belief within the school that Central can only excel in volleyball and softball.
Boyd said he faced a similar situation at Burlington, where volleyball has won back-to-back Division 1 state titles.
“My goal is to change it around and make it a basketball school,” he said. “That’s all I heard at Burlington. … I started out by holding them a lot more accountable in the summer time.
“We have five of the seven days of the week where they’re doing something basketball related in the hopes of changing that stigma.”
Coaching with balance
So what should Boyd’s new charges expect when the season officially begins in November?
Plenty of discipline, but also plenty of encouragement at the same time, he said.
“I’m a disciplinarian, but at the same time, I’m really passionate about the game of basketball and about teaching,” he said. “I balance tough love with extreme teaching of the game of basketball. It’s taught me a lot of valuable life lessons.”
And while he’s now going to wear Central school colors and do everything in his power to beat Wilmot twice a season, Boyd certainly hasn’t forgotten his roots.
He counts former Wilmot coach and current Athletic Director Jerry Christiansen as someone who greatly influenced his life, in high school and beyond.
“‘Herm’ is the coach that I would like to aspire to be,” Boyd said.
“He was like a dad to me. He was tough on me, but always the first one there for me if I needed him. That’s exactly how I coach. Of all the coaches I had through the years, he was the best coach and who I model my coaching after.”
Boyd looks forward to his first matchup with Wilmot when basketball season rolls around – he knows that will be memorable – but there’s another date that will be even stranger.
And that’s when the Falcons face the Demons, which likely will include many of Boyd’s JV girls from a season ago.
Throw in the fact that he still works at Burlington and that night will be odd to say the list.
“(Facing Wilmot) is going to be fun because I love the rivalry,” Boyd said. “I remember it as a kid. That’s what we lived for.
“But what’s going to be even more weird is coaching against Burlington. I still teach there. That’s where I’ve done all my coaching. That’s probably going to be the hardest one. My JV kids, I’m really close to. It’s going to be interesting.”