Kevin Siroki has no problems driving to see anyone, especially if they're dribbling a basketball.
The 1988 Mineral Ridge graduate has been entrenched in the Central American country Belize since his playing days as a professional in the 1990s.
Playing basketball only took the former 5-foot-8 former Rams standout so far. Coaching was his calling.
He exuded his coaching skills as Belize's national coach, coached at the University of Belize and was the athletic director and coach at Galen University.
Earlier this year, there was an opening at his collegiate alma mater - Westminster College. Larry Ondako resigned following the 2011-12 season.
Siroki, who was Westminster's MVP as a senior and three-time letterwinner at point guard for the Titans from 1990-93 - guiding the Titans to a 58-29 record during his four years - was selected to replace Ondako.
Special to Tribune Chronicle
Mineral Ridge native Kevin Siroki, 42, coaches the Belize National Team in this picture. Siroki moved to the Central American country in 2001. The Trumbull?County native was named the Westminster College men’s basketball coach earlier this year. Siroki played for the Titans after graduating from Mineral Ridge in 1988.
"It's a dream job for me, coming back to this area," Siroki said. "A lot of guys that I've spoken to, high school coaches, guys that have seen me play - never seen me coach. Now, they're going to see me coach. They're going to get the opportunity to see me coach. They're excited to do that. So, I don't want to let anyone down."
Incidentally, Niles native Bernie Tarr, who is Belize's national basketball program development officer, remembers Siroki as that guy you never wanted to play. The two played each other during high school and in area leagues.
"I never knew his name, but I remember you hated playing against him but loved playing with him," Tarr said. "We just knew each other through basketball."
In 1997, Tarr had an offer to coach an expansion team in the Belize semi-pro league. He could bring two American players. One was James Lumsden, a player that was from Chanel. Tarr was an assistant there in 1993.
"I was playing in a men's league at the Air Force base in Vienna and we ended up playing each other," Tarr said. "After the game, I asked him what he was doing for the next five months.
"I asked him if he wanted to go to Belize to play in its pro league. He answered yes in less than a second. Although he wasn't big, I had the same feeling as a sophomore when we played at the air base. I hated playing against him and I want him on my team."
The moved into a two-bedroom home in Belize for the next five months.
"We really didn't know each other until coming to Belize," Tarr said.
Siroki and Tarr came back to the states and Siroki became Tarr's assistant in 1998 at Hubbard High School.
"He was a very dedicated, intense coach, from working summer camp to game day strategy," Tarr said. "One game versus Champion we were in a dog fight and it was tied at half. Kevin said to move Brian Conklin - our 6-10 center - to the two spot because we were getting looks out of that spot. Brian opens the third quarter hitting three straight 3-pointers."
Tarr said Siroki's coaching influence transfered to those in Belize as well.
"I see most of his former players he has coached at University of Belize and Galen University, those players are advanced in fundamentals and understand the improtance of drills where most players down here just want to play games," Tarr said.
As for Siroki, he learned from Tarr as well.
"Always work hard," Siroki said. "There's no substitute for working hard. As you can tell, I'm not a very big guy. Nothing has ever been given to me."
That said, Siroki wants to give back to his alma mater this fall.
"I'm a high-energy guy and I believe your team takes on your mentality of your coach," Siroki said. "I'm a hard worker. We're going to play defense. That's my forte as far as a player. As a coach, that's how I've been successful on both levels. We're going to play a lot of strong, hard defense.
"My big thing is family. If we all work together as a family, than it's going to go a long way. It doesn't matter if you have 6-10 guys or 5-8 guys, you're going to be successful."
As for Siroki's family, his wife, Nicole, is still in Belize awaiting her Green Card. They've been married for 10 years and first met when Kevin was playing basketball in Belize.
"We have a running joke," Kevin said. "She was a groupee and came to games to watch me play. She said she lost a bet and had to come to a game and see me play."
Nicole, when she becomes a legalized U.S. Citizen, will see him coach, just like he did in Belize.
It'll be worth it because its more than 3,000 miles from Belize City, Belize to Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pa.
"A lot of people don't understand, I'm not moving from Mineral Ridge, Ohio, to Westminster," Siroki said. "I'm moving from Belize. I had to buy a brand new car. Got to get a house. A lot of things we take for granted we just don't know.
"I tell people everybody works so hard up here to get a retirement home in Florida or wherever it is. I already have my retirement home in Belize. Now, I have to do everything opposite and buy a house up here."