By Justin Einerson, Head Coach
In many ways, I’ve grown up as a coach alongside this group as they’ve grown as students and players. We started together at RAILS Academy in the fall of 2016. It was my first year as GEAR UP Coach and the new boys basketball coach at Lincoln and the 2020 class was the class I focused on with the GEAR UP program. At RAILS, I developed relationships with Nate, Ben, Kam, Andrew, Alex and Thaker and we started building towards a dream. Our varsity team finished 1-21 in 2016-17, but with these guys on the southside, it was clear that winning was coming.
We talked about how we were going to outwork everyone and how the 2020 class was going to be the ones to flip the scales. On Friday night, the 2020 class achieved their mission by winning the first CIML Metro title since 2008. Although everyone would tell you, as long as they let us play, we have a lot left to prove.
Nate Feller was a year-round example of how to turn a program into a winner. Regardless of the time of day or location, he was there getting better. Kameron Young transformed himself into a physical specimen who can shoot and finish to go along with a 4.0 GPA. Speaking of 4.0 GPAs, Ben Badger is a winner in every sport he plays and every task he attacks. Andrew Klein ran at state this year and jumped right into our starting shooting guard role. For the last few years, he’s been coach on our bench, this year he’s a coach on the floor. Alex Crimmins became our program’s sixth man and leader in charges-taken per minute after becoming a fan favorite late in games last year, he’s got a key role on a championship team.
Thaker Kueth came back to us as a senior after playing his freshmen and sophomore years here. Thaker is the ultimate teammate and I’m ecstatic to see him shine with this group as a senior. Kamron Francis came back to us this year after leaving after his sophomore year. It’s amazing to see Kamron get recruited as a college player. Very few people have the resilience that Kam Francis does and that’s why his success in the future is guaranteed. We were also lucky to get Ron Boston this year, who transferred from Iowa City this fall. In his first year of competitive basketball, Ron has been a feisty addition on both ends of the floor and has matched our culture at Lincoln perfectly.
Individually, the love I have for these young men is hard to put into words. We set a very high standard here on the floor, off the floor and in the community. Whether it’s been skill development, weights, taking charges, getting good grades or cooking hot dogs at Cash Saver, these guys were champions. Whether or not we beat North last Friday, they’d be champions to me. But man, I’m sure happy they have that title to carry with them going forward in life.
As for me, I’m just going to soak up every last minute I have with these guys.