The North Bend Eagle

  New basketball coach
Jon Baehr will be the NBC boys basketball coach next winter. He has been coaching at Henderson Heartland for the past three years.

Baehr thinking long term for NBC hoops

by Nathan Arneal
Published 4/24/13

For just the third time in the past 35 years, North Bend Central will have a new head boys basketball coach next season.

The new Tiger prowling the sidelines will be a bear. Jon Baehr (pronounced like the animal) will take the reigns at NBC after serving as the head coach at Heartland High School in Henderson for the past three years.

Baehr, 32, is no stranger to the area. After graduating from Wymore Southern High School in 1999, he attended Midland College in Fremont. His first teaching job was at Cedar Bluffs, where he spent five years, including two as the head boys basketball coach.

From there he moved to York for the chance to work under his former high school coach. After two years as a Duke, he moved down the interstate a few miles to become the head coach at Heartland, where he has also been the activities director for the past two years.

Baehr has put together a 28-39 record at Heartland, a Class D-1 school where the program has struggled with numbers and youth recently. During the 2011-2012 season, Heartland suited up eight varsity players, six of them freshmen.

This past season, Baehr guided the Huskies to a 12-11 record, the school’s first winning season in five years. With its core group of players going to be seasoned veterans as juniors next season, Baehr said Heartland is poised for big things in the next two years. That made the decision to move on a tough one.

“To give that up, in my mind, it had to be almost the perfect opportunity for a long-term deal,” Baehr said, “and that’s kind of what I foresaw when I looked at North Bend.”

In his conversations with people in the North Bend area, he noticed a common trend: excitement for the future of NBC.

“We liked the area when we were there before,” Baehr said. “Then getting a chance to sit down with (A.D.) Tony Allgood and (principal) Brenda Petersen during my interview and (superintendant) Dr. Endorf, it was just their excitement and their passion for North Bend and for what’s coming down the pike. It was really easy to see myself as a piece of that.

“On the athletic side, it was a chance for me to get to a little bigger school and to hopefully establish what I would consider a program, having the number of kids where you can consistently build a quality program through a youth program, junior high and high school.”

Communication and cooperation with youth coaches will be a key to building a successful program in North Bend, he said. He pointed to the best basketball teams in the state and said the varsity coach is active with the kids at a young age in most of those programs.

“With the facilities we’re going to have and the amount of support we’re going to have, how can you not try and create something like that?” Baehr said. “There’s no one way to skin a cat. There’s a ton of different ways to play the game of basketball, but there are certain fundamental techniques that we’re going to do (at each grade level).”

The recent passage of a bond issue that will add a gym to the high school and a multi-purpose room at the grade school really piqued his interest in the NBC job.

“Obviously the bond issue was a big part of it, too,” he said. “All in all, you end up in a couple years with four to five gyms in a town of 1,200 people. How could you not be excited about that?”

Baehr said fans can expect to see a fairly boisterous coach on the sideline, one that makes use of every inch of the coaches’ box. He expects to see that passion reflected in his teams when they take the court for NBC.

“I’m a fairly demanding coach,” he said. “I’ll demand the kids’ effort, their attention, their time. With that, I’ll also give them the same in return. I tell kids, ‘I will never make you do something I wouldn’t do or haven’t done. I will be there more than you. I will put in more time than you. I’ll be at the gym more than you, and I expect you to try and match that.’”

Baehr said he favors a physical brand of man-to-man defense and motion-style offense, but he said he will adapt his style to fit his players.

“My philosophy is getting kids to do the little things right consistently,” he said. “By doing that you’re going to be successful long term. We’ll spend a lot of time understanding what that means.”

He also said the weight room will be a major factor in his program.

“The game of basketball has changed so much in the last 10 to 15 years,” the coach said. “You can see it in the NCAA tournament. The physicality is so much different than it used to be. You have to be physically strong. If you’re not physically strong and aggressive, you’re going to struggle. You see it at all levels.”

In his first year at NBC, Baehr will be teaching fifth and sixth grade social studies, replacing Amy Sterup, who is moving over to K-8 P.E. When the middle school opens at the high school building in 2014, he will move up to teach middle school social studies.

“Bottom line, I’m a teacher first,” Baehr said. “As much as I love basketball, I know my job for nine months is to teach, and I know that doesn’t stop because of basketball season.”

He also hopes to coach another sport at NBC besides boys basketball, but that determination will be made at a later date. He has also coached track and golf at his other stops.

Baehr and his wife Terri will be moving to North Bend some time this summer. She is a registered nurse at the Nebraska Heart Institute in Lincoln, and the immediate plan is for her to keep that job.

The couple has two sons: Koda, age 4; and Knox, 1.

“They’re excited, too,” Baehr said. “(Koda) is going to be in preschool next year. He’s already saying he’s a North Bend Tiger. I think it will be a good fit for us.”

Baehr plans to come up to North Bend on April 29 to meet the rest of the staff and introduce himself to his future basketball players.

“Teaching-wise, wherever they put me, I’ll do my job and I’ll work really hard to be good at it,” Baehr said. “Coaching-wise, it’s a situation where I think I can be involved from third grade to 12th grade and leave an imprint at each level and work with coaches to build something really special. That’s the goal.”

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