KIRKWOOD, Mo–On a November Friday night, parking spaces around Kirkwood High School were hard to find. Football season was over. It was time for the sounds of squeaking sneakers, dribbles, and swishes. For the first time since 2019, the general public had a chance to lay their eyes on the Pioneer boys basketball program.
It was the first chance the general public also got to see the man entering his second season at the helm of the varsity program, former Vashon and Missouri basketball player Jimmy McKinney.
The coronavirus pandemic meant a season of playing in front of limited crowds or none at all. McKinney’s team went 18-6, losing in the district quarterfinals to Ladue.
“When I first came in last year I was hoping to develop a program and build this program,” he said. “We had a pretty decent season. The outcome wasn’t what we expected it to be. I think it was OK.”
With a team that saw most of the playing time go to seniors who bought into his approach, McKinney was able to install his curriculum of playing tough, playing hard and playing together.
“I was able to lock in on coaching wise where I didn’t have to deal with the fans and have to deal with parents, and didn’t have to deal with those types of things but, and they really learned my philosophy and what I wanted and I can say one thing–they bought in.”
If the return to a sense of normalcy continues—McKinney spent much of his time before his team took the floor for the Red & White game encouraging anyone who wasn’t wearing a mask to put one on—he’ll face more of the typical distractions which come with coaching, like dealing with fans and crowds.
After a football season that saw another former Missouri standout in Jeremy Maclin come to Kirkwood and inject new interest into Pioneer athletics, McKinney is looking for community support as the doors open up to fans for year two of his program.
“We know we need the support….it’s a great community so we’re just trying to get the community involved in some things that we’re trying to do on the basketball court.”