Sitting in his usual spot in the corner of the end zone near the scoreboard during Monday evening’s junior varsity football game, Palmyra head coach Kevin Miles received a text message.
“Bring me some money, I forgot my wallet at home.”
The text came from Kevin Krietemeyer, who needed some cash to pay his way into the game. Miles made a few wise cracks before starting to head toward the gate to help out his longtime friend.
Before Miles reached the corner, Krietemeyer came around to meet Miles. The Palmyra grad, and now Bowling Green head man, never said if someone brought him the money or if the workers at the gate finally just let him through.
It didn’t matter.
Just like the two buddies have done over the past several years, Miles was more than willing to help out his friend and now rival coach.
Krietemeyer may be considered an enemy now, as he most certainly was Friday night, but to Miles and the Palmyra football program he will always be part of the “family.”
Friday night’s game between the Bobcats and the Panthers started and ended with the two coaches embracing one another near midfield. The moments symbolize what Miles wants the Palmyra program to be about.
“I always try and look for things that fit each group of kids we have and I think ‘family’ was perfect for this group,” the Panthers head coach said. “They all care about each other.”
Just like Miles and Krietemeyer care for each other as well.
“Well shoot, Kevin (Krietemeyer) is a great guy, we have been good friends ever since he got into coaching and we have become close over the years,” Miles explained. “He is a guy that when I have questions about a certain aspect of the game, I will call him and vice versa. We are colleagues who love each other and spend a lot of time trying to make each other’s program better.”
The relationship goes beyond the sidelines.
“I love him like a brother,” Krietemeyer said of Miles. “He was in my wedding. He is my mentor and just someone I look up to in every way.”
Panthers quarterback Jacob Kroeger mentioned he feels a special connection with his football family as well.
“Football is really a brotherhood,” the junior signal caller said. “Some of us may not be in the same clique during school, but it always seem that once we walk into the football locker room it’s a whole new world. We put blood, sweat and tears and hard work together that has really bonded us into a family.”
Kroeger said Thursday evenings are one of his favorite times with teammates and coaches.
“Every Thursday we have a team meal together where we sit down, pray together and it is really just a time for us to talk and have a couple good laughs with one another,” the quarterback said. “You don’t really have time to laugh and have fun while you are focused on game days. So it’s just a way for us to be laid back and really enjoy the presence of our teammates.”
The bond and family theme is not just for the varsity players. It’s the whole program.
Kroeger remembers playing on the junior varsity team as a freshman and how great it was to see the varsity players at the games cheering on the reserves. Now that he is in his second season at the top level, he does the same as the guys like he looked up to such as Ben Cheffey and Logan Scholl.
“As a JV player I loved when varsity players came and watched me and my teammates,” Kroeger said. “Just them trying to keep my head up when I got down or giving me fist bumps when I did something good. So I like going to the JV games now and give back to them.”
Although the coaching staff may be a little tough on the players during practices and sometimes even in the locker room at halftime, Miles mentioned it’s important his players know they are loved.
“We always tell them we are always here for them,” the Panthers coach said. “We all tell them no matter what happens and no matter how many years they have been removed from the program, if they need us for anything we are always just a phone call away. It’s just something we have always had as a moral value for us.”
And as he proved on Monday, Miles will always be a text message away as well.