Veteran West Carroll High School softball coaches Don Mathey and Jerry Biederman will be inducted into the Illinois Coaches Association (ICA) Hall of Fame Sunday, Feb. 20, in Bloomington as members of the Class of 2021.
Coach Mathey and Coach Biederman provided the following information on their softball careers at Thomson and West Carroll.
I started coaching softball at Thomson High School in the spring of 1991. The board president at the time (either Bruce Bielema or Bill Manning) knew I played men's fastpitch softball when they hired me to teach Agriculture at Thomson High School. He (or Principal William Gengenbach) asked me if I would consider coaching the High School Girls Softball Team. I had coached boys Pony League baseball for many years, but had never coached girls. I said yes and have enjoyed it for 24 varsity seasons in two separate stints: (1991-1999 Thomson COOP and 2007-2021 West Carroll). I also coached 6 FS seasons (2001-2006 West Carroll) when Jerry Biederman was the head coach. I took a sabbatical in 2000.
Obvious numerical successes are winning conference titles, regional titles, sectional titles and advancing to 2 state tournaments. I consider the major successes, however, as seeing players improve throughout the season, executing a play properly, having former players continue to play softball in college, having former players go into coaching, and, better yet, having a former player just come back to say thanks or Hi.
Throughout the past 30 years, I've been blessed that I've had a great assistant or head coach by the name of Jerry Biederman. We played fastpitch softball for the Thomson Men's Fastpitch Team, so we knew each other before coaching. We have the same basic philosophies. Mainly that fundamentals and pitching win a lot of softball games. He is a great student of the game and has a great rapport with the players.
I would like to thank a few people for this award: Lon Scheurell for the nomination, the ICA, Jerry Biederman for being my partner in this 30 year endeavor, the coaches and umpires I've met, known and worked with over the years, and the players I've had the privilege to coach over the years. I would also like to thank my wife for 30 years of late suppers in the spring and my family. This is an honor and privilege. To be honest, one I had never dreamed possible 30 years ago.
Career Record 336-261 (24 years)
Conference Titles - 7
Regional Titles - 4
Sectional Titles - 2
State Appearances – 2
I worked for Exelon (Quad Cites Nuclear Plant) for 33 years, retiring in April of 2017. I was very appreciative of my co-workers and family for allowing me to work strange hours during softball season to be able to coach.
I got involved with Fast Pitch softball, playing for the Thomson Merchants for 11 years and playing in two National Tournaments. I got into coaching in the Thomson Youth program when my oldest daughter was old enough in 1992. Then in 1995 my daughters started to play ASA and then was asked to assist in coaching a year later and coached both of my daughters in ASA for 7 years.
Then I started coaching high school in the 1999-2000 school year and was the head coach for the Thomson Coop team for 6 years and after Consolidation was head coach for 1 year at West Carroll. Then was volunteer assistant for 4 years so I could watch my son play baseball in high school and then when the F/S(JV) job opened I got that and am at that position to the present day. I never thought coaching would be able to take the place of playing but as I found out that being involved with coaching young athletics to see them improve and accomplish goals for the first time is more gratifying then playing and a lot less sore the next morning.
In 7 years as a high school head coach, I had a 137-80 record with 3 conference, 2 regionals and 1 sectional championships.
I want to thank the assistant coaches over the years without them the softball program would not have been as good. But the one guy that has made the softball program great has been Coach Mathey which I have had the honor for him to be my assistant or me being his assistant for 22 of my 23 years of high school softball. It makes coaching so much fun to have someone with the same desire, goals and just being on the same page for all the years. I really believe I would not have been coaching this long without him. Also, thanks to the players and parents, I have been fortunate over the years to have great support.
I would also like to thank my wife, Lauri, and daughters, Melissa (son-in-law Matt) and Kendra (son-in-law Matt) and son Scott (daughter-in-law Brooke) and four grandchildren for their time they give up, the encouragement and the support they give me to coach for all these years. I am very appreciative for that.
I want to thank the ICA for this honor. It really means a lot to me to be recognized.