Former Manual boys basketball coach hired for same role at Limestone

·3 min read
Willie Coleman directs Manual against Rock Island in the 2022 Class 3A Peoria Sectional semifinals at Renaissance Coliseum on the Bradley University campus in Peoria. Coleman, who resigned from Manual earlier this month, is the new coach at Limestone.
Willie Coleman directs Manual against Rock Island in the 2022 Class 3A Peoria Sectional semifinals at Renaissance Coliseum on the Bradley University campus in Peoria. Coleman, who resigned from Manual earlier this month, is the new coach at Limestone.

Willie Coleman will be back on the sidelines this winter, trading orange and black for blue and white.

The former Manual boys basketball coach will take over the same role at Limestone, accepting the job on Wednesday morning.

Coleman earlier this month resigned as coach at Manual High School. He was 60-58 in his five seasons leading the iconic Peoria program, including a state finals appearance in 2019. At Limestone, he replaces Tony Thomason, who resigned from the position in May.

Coleman also will be a guidance counselor at the Bartonville-based Mid-Illini Conference school, a big reason he pursued the job. While coaching Manual, Coleman worked as a counselor at Trewyn School in Peoria.

"That's a plus, being around the kids and getting to know them. It'll be helpful," Coleman said. "Definitely a good fit for me over there."

Who will lead the Rams?: What we know about Manual's search for a new basketball coach

Limestone athletic director Brian Clausen said Coleman's coaching resume "speaks for itself," but is more excited about what Coleman brings as a mentor.

"Education is a big part of him and his family," Clausen said, mentioning Coleman's wife, Annette, the principal at Peoria High. "He loves kids and education. I've heard nothing but positive things from a lot of people."

Clausen said about nine people applied for the position. He and Limestone superintendent Allan Gresham discussed Coleman's hiring with the school board Tuesday night, getting its "blessing," Clausen said. Coleman's hire will be official at the July meeting, Clausen said.

Coleman is expected to start at Limestone in early August, he said. Coleman is expected to next meet with the remaining assistants and determine his staff and meet the team.

"I'll always be south side," Coleman said. "Just moving on to take what I learned at Manual somewhere else."

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Limestone was 9-20 last season and last won a regional title in 2013 on the way to third place statewide in Class 3A under hall of fame coach Eddie Mathews. The Rockets last won the M-I in 2014, the program's first conference title since all-stater DeAaron Williams led the Rockets to three straight M-I titles from 2002-04.

The Mid-Illini balance of power recently has shifted to Washington and Metamora, which have won or shared seven of the eight titles since Limestone's win in 2014. Metamora is coming off a runner-up finish at the 3A state finals.

"It's a different style of play, but if the guys buy in, we'll be fine," Coleman said. "The Mid-Illini is always competitive. ... I hope to play up-tempo, but we'll see what the team is like and the chemistry is like."

Background: Manual boys basketball coach resigns after 5 seasons at Peoria school

Coleman played at Manual from 1992-95, the first three of those seasons under legendary coach Dick Van Scyoc. He was the starting guard on Manual's 1994 state champions. In 1995, he played for Wayne McClain and Manual's state championship repeat team.

Coleman followed Derrick Booth into the Manual head coaching position, taking over in 2017-18 and leading the Rams to a fourth-place finish in the state in 2018-19.

Wes Huett is Journal Star sports editor. Email him at whuett@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @WesHuett.

This article originally appeared on Journal Star: From Peoria to Bartonville: Manual grad takes over Limestone HS team