Coaching holdover set to work with new staff

Some things are about timing. In Kevin Bruinsma’s case, it certainly was.

He and his wife Stacey have a son, Cole, who is just over 11 weeks old.

Kevin, who finished up his second year as a Youngstown State University men’s basketball assistant coach, found his future very uncertain when Coach Jerry Slocum retired on March 7.

Any trepidation about his coaching future at YSU subsided once he found out Jerrod Calhoun was a frontrunner for the vacancy. Calhoun and Bruinsma, 31, spoke briefly about the opening, but didn’t go into much detail. One thing did come from that conversation, however. Calhoun said if he were to get the job, Bruinsma would remain on staff in some capacity. That came to fruition once Calhoun was hired more than month ago.

Bruinsma, who is YSU’s director of player personnel, wouldn’t have to move.

“We couldn’t be happier,” he said. “It’s a great, great situation for us not to sell a house with an 11-week-old son, pack up and move.

“I get to work with someone I’m very close with and I believe in.”

Bruinsma, a 2008 Spring Arbor (Mich.) graduate, knew Calhoun since he was on staff at Cleveland State from 2009-12 under then-coach Gary Waters.

Calhoun, before he was Fairmont State’s coach, was the director of basketball operations at West Virginia under coach Bob Huggins.

The Mountaineers played CSU a couple of seasons while Bruinsma was on the Vikings staff as a graduate manager and video coordinator.

Bruinsma and Calhoun formed a friendship which has strengthened the past four years.

However, Bruinsma points to the opportunity Slocum gave him prior to the start of the 2013-14 season, making Bruinsma YSU’s director of basketball operations for two seasons, before he was promoted to an assistant coach.

“Coach Slocum was tremendous to the point I would say I don’t have the position I do with Jerrod now, if it wasn’t for what coach Slocum did for me,” Bruinsma said. “I’m working for the kids and working to help my friend have success. That’s really the way I look at it. I’m going to do the best I can to help the players and my friend have success. It’s a fun time and it really couldn’t have worked out better.”

His coaching foundation started at CSU under Waters, something Bruinsma realized on his initial interview with the former Vikings coach.

“We didn’t talk a ton about basketball,” Bruinsma said. “We just talked a lot about life. What were my ambitions. What his vision was. It was a lot about us getting to know each other. At the end of the interview, we talked a little basketball. It just worked out.

“Those were three really, really great years working for him.”

Calhoun thinks Bruinsma, who spent the 2012-13 season as the University of Portland’s director of basketball technology, could have his own program one day.

Bruinsma works directly with Calhoun in game planning, scouting reports, summer camps and being a liaison with high school coaches, among other duties.

“What this allows Kevin to do is learn our system, learn how we operate and help in a lot of different ways,” Calhoun said.

He said Bruinsma is very easy to get along with and doesn’t have an ego — bringing an upbeat attitude every day at work.

This opportunity kept him in Youngstown to spend more time with his family, and not on the road recruiting.

“You can’t get those days back,” Calhoun said. “That’s one thing about coaching. It’s tough on a family.”