NEVADA UNION ATHLETICS CLASS OF 2017: Kermit Young
April 20, 2017
In Nevada Union's 60-plus year history, Miners boys basketball teams have won two Sac-Joaquin Section championships.
At the helm for those title seasons was head coach Kermit Young.
"I give the majority of the credit to my assistant coaches, the people in our program and certainly the players," Young said of his success at Nevada Union. "We had some great kids back then that had a great work ethic and they were extremely coachable. So, away we went. We had some talent and hopefully made the most of it. And, as our record shows, we were highly successful in what we did"
Young spent seven years coaching at Nevada Union from 1976-1983 and in that time collected five Sierra Foothill League championships, five Coach of the Year Awards and Nevada Union's only section championships in boys basketball (1981 and 1982). For his efforts Young is set to be inducted into the Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame.
"We just had tough kids who were highly coachable, willing to play hard-nosed defense and had a passion for the game," Young said. "They played like a team, played together and consequently we had good success."
Some of Young's favorite moments from his time at Nevada Union came at the expense of rival Placer.
"We always savored and liked beating, as we called them, 'the hated Hillmen from Placer.' That was a heated rivalry back then," he said.
Young added that his basketball teams always had great support from the community.
"Back then, I'll tell you, we filled that gymnasium every home game," he said. "It was packed. We had a great following by the student body and the community. Those times are well remembered."
Young's coaching style was demanding, just like he was on himself as a player, but his style also yielded results.
"I was pretty demanding of my kids," Young said. "I told them we're going out-work (our opponent). There might be more talent that we're going to be competing against, but nobody's going to out-work us. And, that was just kind of our attitude. We got on the court and the kids really went to work. We played exceptional defense and I think that helped us offensively as well."
Young grew up in Montana and played college basketball for the Montana State Bobcats, where he averaged a double-double in rebounds and points as a player. He had some interest from NBA teams coming out of college, but in the 1960s the NBA didn't pay what it does now, so he chose to get into the workforce as a salesman.
That didn't last long.
"What I would find myself doing was driving into some small town and would see some kids shooting hoops at the school or a recreation park," he said. "I would take my tie and jacket off and go shoot with them and coach them.
"I said 'you know what, I need to follow my passion,' so I went back to school, got my credential and in 1968 I came to California."
Before finding his way to Nevada Union in 1976, Young coached basketball at Paso Robles High School and Santa Maria High School. After his time at NU, he coached at Natomas High School before making the jump to the college level. In his 15 years as a high school coach, Young tallied a record of 315-99, won nine league championships, was named the Coach of the Year nine times and won two section titles.
"Kermit has a fantastic basketball mind," said Brett Taylor, who was an assistant coach under Young and will also be inducted into NU's Hall of Fame this Saturday. "When I walked on the floor with him for the first time, it was like I had never played. He just saw basketball at a whole other level that I was never exposed to."
Young coached at the college level for 14 years, seven years as head coach at Napa Valley College and another seven as an assistant at the University of Nevada, Reno, and University of the Pacific. He later coached at the pro level in the American Basketball Association and spent several years coaching internationally.
Young currently lives in Nevada City and is retired, with the exception of a few motivational speeches and hoops clinics here and there.
Young will be inducted alongside three of his players, David Heppe, Chris Cota and Kele Fitzhugh.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email email@example.com.
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