“Somebody asked how many games are we going to win ... I know in my heart that we can get this thing back competitive and hopefully do it pretty quickly.” — Coach Jerry Bomholt and in his final season at Shawe
“Somebody asked how many games are we going to win ... I know in my heart that we can get this thing back competitive and hopefully do it pretty quickly.” — Coach Jerry Bomholt and in his final season at Shawe
By any measure, Jerry Bomholt's two years at Franklin High School were a success. But when a chance to come back home presented itself, the veteran coach knew he had to make the move.

Bomholt returned to the school that he took to a state championship game when he was hired as new head boys basketball coach at Southwestern on Tuesday. Bomholt replaces his former player, Andy Firth, who resigned earlier this month after four years on the job.

"I went up (to Franklin) thinking that was going to be the place that I would finish my coaching career and retire," Bomholt said. "What I didn't realize at the time was that not being able to move up there physically really, really put a strain on my wife and I's relationship. For two years we basically lived apart and it made it really hard. I think I had gotten home three times since Christmas ... you just can't live 80 miles apart and feel like it's the right thing to do."

Bomholt went 31-14 in two years at Franklin and won the Johnson County Tournament both years. The school had won 35 games in the four previous seasons combined.

Before Bomholt moved to Franklin he became a coaching mainstay in Jefferson County. He took the Southwestern job initially in 1997 and went 78-35 in five seasons including a Class 2A state runner-up finish in 1998.

A falling out with the previous administration hastened his departure from Southwestern and he ended up at nearby Shawe Memorial, going 135-73 in nine seasons with four sectional championships, two of which led to regional runner-up finishes.

He initially retired from coaching at the end of the 2010-11 season and spent two years away while serving as principal at Shawe but the coaching bug bit hard and he headed to Franklin two years ago. Now, he's back.

"We talked about it at length," said Bomholt, who is 463-284 all-time. "I loved the kids up there (at Franklin). We're going to leave a good nucleus of kids that are going to be competitive. I feel good about what we accomplished. We won 31 games in two years, we won back-to-back county championships which they have never done in their history ... but, when it's all said and done the opportunity to come back here, be at home again, to help my wife with some things that need to be taken care of, it was too much to pass up."

Bomholt admits that the Southwestern job may be the biggest rebuilding project of his 35-year coaching career - the Rebels have not had a winning season since his departure - after Southwestern won just one game this past season when the Rebels were outscored by 32 points per game and lost leading scorer Tristan Embs to graduation.

Bomholt has not had a chance to see the Rebels in action but his connections in the community run deep and he feels like he has a pretty good grasp on the situation.

"It's a chance to challenge myself a little bit by the opportunity that seems to be present at Southwestern right now and it's probably going to test our patience a little bit," said Bomholt, who hopes to assemble as much of the staff as possible that he had during his last stint in Hanover. "But I've talked to a lot of people and who knows, we feel like we can make a difference with some hard work. Everybody tells me the young kids want to work hard, that basketball's important to them."

Southwestern athletic director Tom Scroggins, who played for Bomholt at Southwestern and later coached under him at Shawe, was thrilled to bring back a coach of Bomholt's stature to the program.

"When I heard Coach was interested, I said it's got to be a rumor because he had a good season last year at Franklin," Scroggins said. "Not to knock anybody else that was interested in this job, but to get a guy like Jerry Bomholt, who took this team to the state championship and is close to 500 wins, it's a no-brainer."

Bomholt plans to get started right away. He hopes to meet members of the team today and has already got most of his coaching staff in place. Never known for patience, Bomholt believes the program can turn the corner quickly.

"If we can get the right people in the right places, get some youth in there, some enthusiasm, get some instruction done that we've been able to do pretty much everywhere we've been, we think we can take some steps in the right direction," Bomholt said. "Somebody asked how many games are we going to win. You know, I've never been a very good prognosticator but I know in my heart that we can get this thing back competitive and hopefully do it pretty quickly."

Bomholt will teach math and driver's education in the classroom.