August 26, 2019

Love & Basketball

Boyne City’s Nick and Julie Redman
By Al Parker | Feb. 9, 2019

Go to a Boyne City High School basketball game, and you’ll see something rarer than a Detroit Pistons victory parade.

The Ramblers’ Nick and Julie Redman have the distinction of being among a very small number of married couples in Michigan coaching varsity basketball.

Nick is in his 10th year as a very successful coach of the boys team, while Julie is beginning her second season with the girls squad.

  “We won eight games last year,” said Julie. “And we’re hoping to build on that.”

Basketball has been a family affair of the Redmans for decades. Both Nick and Julie played when they attended BCHS as students, and two of their sons, Jay and Corey, played the game.

In fact, Corey is still playing at Central Michigan University after a stellar career at BCHS where the two-time captain scored 1,334 points and was an All Stater. Older brother Jay played at Lawrence Tech, where he earned both athletic and academic scholarships.

Julie took over the struggling girls program after former coach Kevin Fitzpatrick stepped down after a 3–18 season in 2016. It was a grim situation for fans of the girls program. The squad had no legacy of excellence, and Julie was coming in without any varsity coaching experience.

But she did have that basketball background, having played at BCHS herself. She also had posted a single-season winning record by coaching a middle school team to an 11–1 mark. Despite that impressive record, Julie admits to being nervous about her varsity debut against Bellaire.

She had prepared by attending some coaching clinics and continues to study the game that has been such a big part of the family’s daily life.

“It went better than I thought, but I was scared,” she remembered with a laugh. “I’m still learning. The coaching clinics helped a lot. ”

Because going from an eighth grade coach to a varsity position rarely happens, Julie continues to devote time to proving her mettle, studying the game and learning some of the nuances that can make the difference between a win and a loss.

“She’s been working really hard at it,” said Nick. “She’s been learning and figuring it out and showing the girls. She has good common-sense knowledge of the game from her playing it.”

Those playing days came more than three decades ago when Julie and Nick were high school sweethearts. “We met in 1983 and started dating in the summer of ’84,” said Nick, who runs a construction company when he’s not coaching. 

By the end of her first season, Julie’s team had won eight games, more than doubling the previous season’s victory total. “I don’t want to be overconfident,” she said. “But one of our goals this year is to win more than eight games.”

When Nick became Boyne City’s head coach, like Julie, he had no varsity coaching experience. His first game took place in December 2009; his Ramblers nipped Glen Lake, 68–66.

“Then we lost 18 in a row,” he said with a laugh.

During the losing streak, Nick’s team kept getting better, even though the losses kept piling up. “That group of kids kept fighting, kept improving,” he said.   

It was more than two months later when he finally got his second win, a 62–54 victory over Inland Lakes.

But the best was yet to come for the fledgling coach and his intrepid team. When the playoffs came, the Ramblers edged East Jordan, 57–54, earning the right to take on a powerful Charlevoix squad that had won six of its previous eight games. In a contest that they still talk about in Boyne City, the resolute Ramblers upset Charlevoix, 65–64, before a season-ending loss to Suttons Bay.

“Charlevoix and [Traverse City] St. Francis are our toughest games every year,” said Nick, who has built a reputation for teams that hustle no matter the outcome.

That game-long intensity has paid off with six District Titles in Nick’s nine seasons. Last year the Ramblers went 19–7.

“We have to play with enthusiasm and execute,” he said of his current team. “We don’t probably have the size or athleticism as we had last year or in previous years, but I think overall our size is OK, and our team speed is OK. It’s just a matter of playing hard, playing together.”

Key returners this year included seniors Dillon Sulak and Trevor King, plus juniors Max Vondra and Pete Calcaterra.

“Our kids have a lot of pride in our program,” said Nick. “But we talk a lot about taking care of the things we can control. That’s our enthusiasm, our effort and execution. If we take care of those three things, good things will happen.”  

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