Interview with Reedley College Football Coach Kevin Helmey

Nov 6, 2010 | Contributors, Education, Larry Ham, Reedley News, Sports

by Larry Ham

I’ve been covering sports in the Valley for twenty-five years, and one of the things I’ve learned is that every successful sports program has people working behind the scenes who have as much impact on the team’s success as the star athletes. One of those behind the scenes, indispensable people is Reedley College Offensive Line Coach and equipment manager Kevin Helmey.

Coach Kevin Helmey

I had a chance to ask Kevin a few questions, and he managed to fit some answers into his busy schedule. And when I say busy, I mean busier than just about anyone else I’ve ever met!

Larry: First, tell us where you grew up, where you went to school, and tell us about your football career as a player.

Kevin: I grew up in various areas of Northern California. My mom and step dad settled in Arroyo Grande where I graduated from High School. My mom put me in Pop Warner football when I was a kid, to get me out of the house. She was a single parent at the time and tried to find ways to keep me busy as well as develop some social skills. I was a very shy kid. I played high school football, then junior college ball at West Hills College. After that, I played at Sacramento State for two years for a great coach and man named Bob Mattos.

Larry: When did you get into coaching?

Kevin: Bob Mattos at Sacramento State gave me my first coaching job in 1988. It was a great experience, as we went to the Division 2 Playoffs that year and lost in the semi finals to North Dakota State.

Larry: What is it about coaching that you enjoy?

Kevin: I really enjoy working with the kids at the junior college level. Like I said before, I was a junior college product and very fortunate to play for some great coaches like Dick Womack, who took a chance on a kid who was not a great athlete but loved the game, and developed me to the best out of my abilities. That is what I really enjoy doing with the young kids we get at Reedley College. I enjoy working with the kids both off of the field as well as on. I can relate to a lot of them, having come from a single parent situation for a lot of my younger life. I enjoy helping them not only develop athletically but also as young adults. I enjoy teaching fundamentals to the kids because I believe that part of the game has gone by the way side at the younger levels.

Larry: How did you end up at Reedley College?

Kevin: I was given the opportunity to come to Reedley College in 1994. Then Defensive Coordinator Randy Whited and I had met while working at football camps at Sacramento State. John Perkins had decided to retire from coaching football, so Randy asked me if I would be interested in coaching the offensive line. I was at Contra Costa College at the time working for a great coach but not a great situation for me financially, and at the time, this was a better situation. Plus it was a chance for me to get back to an area I was a little more familiar with. I met with Michael White during the summer and he offered me the job, and I know for a fact in the first couple of years he might have been questioning his decision, but that is another story in itself. It worked out to be one of the best things that has happened in my life. I was very fortunate to again be surrounded by great coaches in Michael and Randy, who not only cared about the game but about treating the kids right and making them not only good football players but better young men.

Larry: You’re duties at Reedley College go far beyond just coaching. You also are equipment manager. That seems like a huge undertaking. What’s a typical day like for you during football season?

Kevin: A typical day for me starts at 6 a.m. getting the players laundry back for the 8 a.m. workouts and meetings. I not only have football to worry about, but all other sports that Reedley College has to offer. So depending on the day and time of the season there could be gym setups for a volleyball game or basketball game. I work with other staff members to make sure the P.E. classes are set up and ready for the instructors to teach their class through out the day, as well as keep all of the appropriate equipment in working order. My workday ends at 2:30 and then I go on to the football field and coach until 5:45. And then I work with other coaches, going over the practice of the day and getting game plans ready with offensive coordinator Scott Stark. I also will start the football laundry from practice so it will be ready for the next day. I usually get out of the office somewhere around 7 p.m.

Larry: In your years as a coach at Reedley College, you’ve experienced some real highs. The best high, I would imagine, was 2002. Can you recall your impressions of that year, and what it was like to win the State and National championship?

Kevin: That was a great year obviously because of the national championship but that was just a small piece of it. When you’re coaching, you’re always talking about getting out of it what you put into it, and I have had a lot of positive experience with that on an individual basis. But that was the second time I got to see it on the team level, the first being 1988, my first year coaching at Sacramento State. The young men on our 2002 team started their pursuit of excellence in January in our off-season workouts. We were 4-6 the previous year and the returning kids felt like they did not get great leadership from the sophomore class, and set out to make sure there was not a repeat performance on their watch. Winning the game was awesome but it was great going out to practice, because those kids just had a great love for the game and wanted to work hard to be the best they could be — and that was not just the starters, that was every kid on that team. Winning the State and National championship is every coach’s goal at this level. It is one of the many reasons we show up everyday. But the kids won those games — they just gave us the opportunity to come along for the ride and man was it a fun one!

Larry: This year has been an up and down one for Reedley College Football. If you had to give your coaching this year a grade, what would it be?

Kevin: My coaching grade this year would probably be a B. With the new offensive going in this season there are still some of the finer points I am learning, and trying to do a better job helping Scott put together a more efficient run game for us schematically, and make some game day adjustments. There have been a few games were I felt I was right on and a couple that I got caught up in the game too much.

Larry: As the Offensive Line coach, you coach players who don’t get a lot of publicity. They do all the dirty work. How do you keep them motivated?

Kevin: When you play the offensive line, you have to be motivated by knowing that the offense does not function at a high level if the offensive line does not function at a high level. It is our job to open holes for the running backs and protect the Quarterback so he can distribute the ball to the skills kids, based on the plays called. I talk to my kids all the time about that. The good offensive linemen are intrinsically motivated. They just have to be ready to line up for 70 plus plays and be ready to play hard from the snap of the ball through the echo of the whistle. We talk all the time about putting on our hard hats and going to work. Play one play at a time and do the best you can. It does not always have to be the prettiest, but just find a way to get the job done.

Larry: I know you’re a family man. Tell us a little about your family.

Kevin: In regards to my family life, I have been very blessed here. I married way above my abilities that is for sure! My wife Kim and I have been married for 11 years. She is one of the best things that has happened to me if not the best thing. She allows me to be me, and sometimes that is not the easiest thing. Kim and I have no children together, but I was very fortunate to have her daughter Danielle come into my life, she has been awesome in every regard. My mom remarried when I was 13 and that is not an easy adjustment for a young child and she allowed me to be part of her life and I am very blessed for that. I just hope I was half the stepfather to her that my step dad was to me. Danielle and her husband have given Kim and me two awesome grandchildren in Tristan and Eva, and they definitely keep us grounded. They have been very supportive of me in football as well as every day life. I could not have picked a better scenario to have put myself in. I would not be where I am today if it was not for the love and patience of my wife Kim.

Larry: Finally, tell us what the best thing is about being a football coach, and being a coach at Reedley College.

Kevin: Like I mentioned above, I love working with the kids and seeing them grow both on and off the field. I think I learn more from them then they do from me sometimes. We have been very fortunate here at Reedley College not only to have great players, but great kids. The best thing about coaching at Reedley College are the people in and around the program. The support staff on campus is awesome. The community is very supportive of the kids and our program. This all started with Dr. Thom Crow and has been carried on by our President Dr. Hiocho, as well as our new Vice President of student services Michael White, who also had a lot to do with the culture being built here as the Head Football Coach for 19 years.

Kevin Helmey is, simply put, an indispensable part of the athletic program at Reedley College. He is a terrific coach, a hard working equipment manager, and a good friend. Kevin and the Tigers will be in Visalia Saturday night to play the COS Giants at 7 p.m. You can hear the Tiger Football webcast every Saturday and catch the game recap here at KRL Monday night at 7.

Larry Ham is an ongoing contributor to our
Everything Education section, having covered many an area school game through the years.

Kings River Life Magazine will be featuring recaps of each game on the following Monday nights at 7 p.m..


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