Southview senior Kelly Heil, left, gets a hug from teammate Molly Luetke after scoring her 1,000th career point Tuesday against Perrysburg. Heil is the top returning scorer in the Northern Lakes League. THE BLADE
The last time Kelly Heil was part of the Southview girls varsity basketball team, she was the Cougars’ first All-Ohio first-teamer as a senior.
Now, after seven total seasons coaching at the junior high (Timberstone) and junior varsity (Southview) levels, Heil is set to become the Cougars’ next girls varsity head coach in 2017-18.
The hirings of Heil and Bob Simon, who has been selected as Southview’s next boys varsity coach, still are subject to approval by the Sylvania Schools board of education at their next meeting in August.
Heil succeeds Desiree Eidson as girls head coach, and Simon, a longtime college assistant coach, follows Bruce Smith as boys head coach.
Heil, 34, has taught physical education and health 11 years for Sylvania Schools. She enters her first season with superb credentials from her days as a player. She already has been inducted into the Sylvania (2009) and Ohio Wesleyan University (2015) athletic halls of fame.
Was it Heil’s objective to someday return as Southview’s head coach?
“I wouldn’t say it was a goal,” she said. “I just love coaching. The Southview program, when I played here, gave me so much. I just wanted to give back to a school that was important in developing me as a teacher and a coach. I’ve learned a lot of life lessons here.”
Heil had a sterling resume as a player at both levels.
At Southview, she was a four-time first team All-Northern Lakes League selection, scoring a school-record 1,442 career points. She was named first-team All-Ohio in 2001, when she averaged 23.1 points per game, and was selected third-team All-Ohio as a junior in 2000, when she scored 22.8 points per game.
Heil, who set a Southview single-game record with 42 points, also was named to the All-Blade team as a senior.
At Ohio Wesleyan, Heil was named to the All-North Coast Athletic Conference first team all four years (2002-05), and remains the NCAC’s all-time leading scorer in women’s basketball with 2,112 career points.
In 2003, her sophomore season, she was named NCAC player of the year after averaging 21.6 points and 5.5 rebounds as a 5-11 guard-forward. Heil started every game in her career for the Battling Bishops.
Heil has come full circle. Her coach at Southview was Kevin Mitchell, who will serve as the Cougars’ varsity assistant coach. They will look to rebuild Southview into an NLL contender.
The Cougars struggled the past two seasons under Eidson, finishing 5-40 overall, and a last-place 1-13 in the NLL each year. The Cougars’ last team that contended for a league title was in 2012-13 (17-7 overall, 12-2 NLL) under Tim Nottke.
“I think there’s a lot of talent here, and we have kids who work hard,” Heil said. “It’s just a matter of getting everyone on the same page as far as terminology, goals and just working as a team.
“I just want us to be successful and have a winning record, and get it back to where it was when I played. I’m looking forward to working with coach Mitchell again.”
Simon, 54, has an extensive resume as a college assistant coach, including six seasons under Stan Joplin at the University of Toledo, and most recently two seasons as associate head coach at Alabama.
His last work at the high school level was his four-year stint as head coach at Southgate (Mich.) Anderson in the Detroit. A 1981 graduate of Thurston High School in Redford, Mich., Simon began his coaching run as an assistant at Thurston the year after he graduated.
He moved up from Anderson in 1991, spending nine years as an assistant at Wayne State University in Detroit before coming to UT in 2000. He then worked six years at Fairfield (Conn.) University, four years at Providence College in the Big East, and two years at Alabama.
Simon’s daughter, Bobbie, and son, Devin, attended Southview while he was coaching at UT. Bobbie graduated from there in 2007. Devin played his freshman and sophomore seasons at Southview, moved to Fairfield for his junior year, then returned to Sylvania as a senior and graduated from Northview in 2009.
Simon and his wife, Donna, have owned a home in Sylvania since the time he coached at UT, so the return to high school coaching did not require a complicated relocation. Also, having Joplin at Southview as an administrator made the move more attractive to Simon. Joplin also worked as a prep head coach (at Springfield) after concluding his college coaching career.
“Right now, it’s just a different career path,” Simon said of transitioning back to the high school level for the first time in 26 years. “My wife and I owned a home in Sylvania and we had been renting it out for some time. Both of our parents are still alive and they all live in Redford Township in Michigan. It puts us closer to our family.
“I found that the job was open, and Stan [Joplin] and I still maintain a friendship and a good relationship. He was a mentor to me as a young college coach, and he gave an opportunity to be a Division I assistant coach, and he allowed me to grow in his program. I’ve always been appreciative of that.”
Simon doesn’t expect his transition back to the high school game to be difficult.
“With any coaching job — whether its middle school, junior high, high school or college — there’s different challenges,” Simon said. “What happens at the high school level is that I can make an impression on these young kids. My job is to continue to build the program, build relationships, mentor young men and prepare them for life.
“Hopefully, they have appositive experience with someone who will push them in a positive direction. Someone who is a positive role model and will motivate them. I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’ve met some of the players and have appreciated their effort, and they seem like a great group of guys. I’m extremely excited and looking forward to it.”
Southview was 70-26 overall the past four seasons under Smith, including a 24-1 record and NLL championship (14-0) in 2014-15. The Cougars were 15-9 overall last season.
Smith, who resigned April 24, was 433-216 overall in 30 seasons as a high school head coach, including four seasons at Delta (1987-91) and 22 seasons at Whitmer (1991-2013).