By Jonna Spelbring Priester
With his players gathered around after a thorough 34-13 drumming of Kentucky Country Day, Eminence Head Coach Steve Frommeyer shared some of the secrets to getting his 200th win in 25 years as coach.
You need good players, he told them. You need good parents. You need good assistants. You need good support from higher up. And it helps, he joked, to be old.
Frommeyer, 52, joined a selective club Friday night as the Warriors steamrolled their way to the win that the players seemed determined to make happen. Even as the team, and community, celebrated the win and Frommeyer’s accomplishment — some wearing shirts that said “Got 200? Fro does” — Frommeyer said it’s not about him.
“It’s really about this football team and these kids,” he said, adding that he didn’t want the specter of a 200th win to take the focus off of the kids. “They worked really hard to get to this point.”
Frommeyer was hired by Eminence in 1985 as a guidance counselor and head football coach in what Eminence Independent Schools Board member Ben Coomes said was a match made in heaven.
Coomes said that at the time, the district found itself in need of a guidance counselor and science teacher, as well as someone to serve as a football coach. For Frommeyer, who wanted to be both a guidance counselor and a football coach, it was a perfect fit. He left Bullitt County, where he served as an assistant football coach, and settled in Eminence.
Of his 25 years at Eminence, Frommeyer said one of the accomplishments that stands out to him was early — just his second year as coach.
“The first winning season was in my second year ... (that’s) still a special time,” he said. It was the first time, he said, in about 15 years that the school had a winning season. “The program was really struggling I think, and they were deciding whether they wanted to keep football or not. So having that winning season in 1985 was really special.”
Then came a series of championships at 8-man football.
For Frommeyer, the last 25 years have been part of a calling. “I think God called me to do this, like He calls other people to do other jobs,” he said. “I think it’s important that we all answer our call.”
As a student-athlete at Eastern Kentucky University, Frommeyer played safety and defensive back in the late 1970s. He encourages his students to play at the collegiate level, even if it’s not a major school.
“When you go through what you go through at that level with these other guys, you create a fraternity or a bond that you never forget,” he said.
Frommeyer wanted to be a coach — and a counselor — for one basic reason. “In the end, it’s really about helping kids,” he said. “It’s not really about how many games you win. The older you get, the more you realize that.”
It took time for Frommeyer to come to that realization, though, noting that when he started as a coach, the number of wins and losses was important — that is, after all, “how we’re brought up.”
But the focus changes.
“As you stay in the business longer and longer ... (I) can’t even remember a lot of the scores,” he said. I can’t remember if we beat Henry County in 1995. But what I’ve never forgotten is the character of each of the players and people I’ve worked with. That becomes the most important thing you can do.”
EIS superintendent Donald Aldridge said that Frommeyer’s 200 wins as a head coach says something not just about the coach, but about the character of his players and students.
“Even when they lose, they are competing, and they show good sportsmanship,” Aldridge said. “He laid that out as principal — above all, we have to build character.”
Frommeyer, who Coomes said has no doubt had “better” offers through the years, is committed to Eminence, though at first, Frommeyer wasn’t so sure he’d stick around.
“I thought I would come and get experience as a counselor and football coach and then move on to a bigger situation, but never left,” he said.
The residents of the town, the school board, and the people he’s worked with over the years all are part of the reason he has stayed.
“It’s hard to walk away from people that become your friends,” he said. “And the kids have been great. God has blessed me with the opportunity to coach some really great kids over the years. And in a K-12 setting, you get to watch them grow up.”
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