HALE – If there is a statistical category you can think of, chances are Joseph Kimmerer holds the school record. The Hale senior sits atop the list in an impressive range of basketball stats, making him one of the best players to come through the area.
“It’s all about the hard work that we put in,” Kimmerer said. “We always got in the gym when necessary and I was always there even when it wasn’t necessary too. Everyone was always involved, whether it was during the season our out of season. All the hard work, from a young age, mattered.”
The Eagles had their post-season run put on hold when the MHSAA postponed all playoff games, the night before they were expected to play Mio in the district championship due to the COVID-19 outbreak. If play doesn’t resume, Kimmerer finishes with 1,882 career points, 806 career rebounds and 236 assists; all school records. He also holds the career school records for field-goals, free throws and three pointers. His 1,882 career points is also believed to be the most of any boys basketball player in Iosco County history.
Every basket, every pass and every rebound helped the Eagles claim four straight North Star League Little Dipper championships, and a district title his freshman year.
“You can go down the record books and look at the different categories and see how he stacks up against anyone that has ever come through Hale basketball,” his father and head coach Joe Kimmerer said. “It all comes from the work that he puts in. In season, out of season, it all mattered to him and being a good teammate mattered to him. I think one of the things that stands out the most to me is being able to have a big impact on four straight league championships. I don’t know that has ever happened at Hale or across the league in general before.”
One might think that the younger Kimmerer would have taken winning the league titles for granted. That apparently was anything but the case.
“It means a lot to everybody, the players, the coaching staff and the community,” he said. “Everybody was excited when it happened the first time my freshman year and we were just as excited this time. Winning championships never gets old. Winning four in a row is a big accomplishment and something we can be proud of. It is just an honor to be a part of this team and part of this school and area. Everything has come together really nicely and they look to continue it in the future; I know it is possible with the team they have coming back in the years to come.”
Despite holding so many records, Joseph Kimmerer actually began his freshman year on the junior varsity team. Just two games into that season it was already obvious he belonged on the varsity stage.
“It is always difficult for me, being his father to really speak about his accomplishments and I don’t want someone to think that he hasn’t earned it,” Joe Kimmerer said. “That kind of started back in his freshman year. I really wanted to pull him up at the start of his freshman season but I also wanted him to be able to prove to the rest of the guys that it was deserving. After the first two games, I knew we had a need for some additional scoring and he was scoring over 20 a game on JV. At that point I felt he had earned it and I called him up.”
From there Joseph was off to the races. As a freshman he averaged 11.9 points a game and hit several key baskets down the stretch in a key league win over Fairview; a contest he scored 27 points in. His sophomore year saw his offensive output reach 18.6 points per game. His junior year things got even better, as he averaged a double-double with 25.5 points and 11.9 rebounds a contest. He capped it off with a 29 point, 12.2 average during his farewell season. He also set the school record for most points in a game (50) during the team’s district opening win over Fairview earlier this month.
“There have been multiple times over the four years that I got caught up watching the things that he was doing, kind of in awe, but I had to remember that I was the coach also,” Joe Kimmerer said. “It was very satisfying and probably one of the biggest things that I will take from the last four years is all the different players and coaches form our league coming up to me about what a great sportsman he was, how he always let his game speak for itself and how he carried himself on and off the court. That alone was one of the biggest things I will take from this; knowing that he is not only a great basketball player but a great person.”
As Joseph climbed the school’s all-time scoring leaderboard, he passed a familiar face along the way; his father. Joe Kimmerer, a 1995 graduate, was former standout for the Eagles himself and finished with 1,056 career points.
“It was a great moment,” Joe Kimmerer said of seeing his son surpass him last season. “I have always loved the game and I am in the camp that records are made to be broken. It was a proud moment of just being happy for him; although I did tell him leading into it that if there was anyone that could stop him from breaking my record it was me, because I controlled his playing time; but that was all in fun.
I’m just really proud of his accomplishments,” he added. “He put a stamp on Hale basketball that people are going to have to look at and try to emulate or beat it and if they can do those things, Hale basketball is going to be good for a long time.”
Joseph remembers the night he passed his dad fondly as well.
“He has always been a huge role model to me,” he said of his father. “It meant a lot to be in a position to pass him on the scoring list. There are a lot of players that don’t get the opportunity to be in the 1,000’s, so it was an honor to pass him. He has brought me a long ways since my younger years.”
Of course once he surpassed his dad, the next question was when, not if he would pass Chad Brandt. Brandt, a 1992 Hale graduate set the program’s scoring record with 1,251 points. Joseph finished last season just two points shy of the mark. He wasted no time in setting the new record, as he drilled a contested three pointer for his first basket of the season, as Brandt watched from the stands.
“It was good to get it out of the way early in the season, that way we could just worry on winning the rest of the season,” Joseph Kimmerer said. “It felt like a huge accomplishment and I am glad to say that the person I passed has also been a mentor for me.”
As COVID-19 continues to cause sporting events across the country, it becomes increasingly harder to see a scenario that Hale resumes its basketball season.
“If this is how it ends, it is a shame for him and all our seniors,” Joe Kimmerer said. “However, going back and being able to look at what they accomplished over the years will help them feel a little better about it. Luckily the MHSAA hasn’t cancelled anything yet… It is still difficult but I guess it will be something they can talk about the rest of their lives either way.”
While his high school career could be over, Joseph is zeroing in on his college choice. A standout in the classroom as well, with a 3.89 GPA, he hopes to study finance and of course play some college hoops.
“I am very interested in playing basketball at the next level,” he said. “After college, it will be hard to play an organized basketball game so it will be nice to have four more years of the thing that I love. The first thing I will look at is academics and then I will look at what level of basketball they are at, and how successful they are. The hardest part will be making the decision.”