Sports

Blum leads the Bremerton Knights

Bremerton High School track and field coach Jeremy Blum (left) leads high jump practice with Hannah Sersha Monday. - Mike Baldwin/staff photo
Bremerton High School track and field coach Jeremy Blum (left) leads high jump practice with Hannah Sersha Monday.
— image credit: Mike Baldwin/staff photo

Jeremy Blum didn’t think he would be running the Bremerton High School track and field practices this soon. After all, by the end of last season he had been a volunteer assistant for a couple months.

But now the 27-year-old coach is at the center of a transitional stage.

“I was promoted twice, and now I’m here, and it’s going well,” Blum said.

Any pressure felt this season is alleviated by his kids in blue and gold, who aren’t afraid to look to Blum for inspiration.

“This is really fun because I can really mentor and talk with these kids,” Blum added. “I not only get to learn about them in sports, but also about their goals in life. Some want to come out and do this in college, while others are doing it as social butterflies, so you cater to both those groups.”

Blum replaces Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame coach Lloyd Pugh, who led the team for 13 seasons. When Pugh received notice last September that he would not return to the Knights, and his successor abruptly left prior to the season, it was Blum who was tapped to lead Bremerton. Blum, who had never been a head coach before, transitioned from volunteer to assistant to head coach in one swoop.

The open invitation to coach prep track for the first time was met with enthusiasm.

Blum knew he would start his own program starting with a large senior class, headlined by Michaela Anderson and Kyle Kennedy. Leading familiar faces in an unfamiliar role has helped Blum take control.

“We have some amazing talent out here,” Blum said. “The transition was helped a lot by the seniors and I know if I came in next year with a different class, it would be weird.”

Blum, a 2001 graduate of Kamiakin High School in Kennewick, served as a volunteer track coach for middle schools and high schools in the Tri-Cities before arriving in Bremerton last year.

Blum grew up in Kennewick and now lives in Bremerton. The head coach works as an associate pastor at Sylvan Baptist Church in Bremerton.

He played soccer at Puget Sound Christian College in Everett, but wanted to return to his passion of track and field.

Although Blum, a former sprinter at Kamiakin, didn’t arrive to Bremerton until late in the 2010 season, he already has a feel for the personalities on the 2011 roster, Anderson and Kennedy included.

“We know Jeremy, and he knows us, so we know how it all works,” said Kennedy, who hopes to win a state title in the javelin this season. “It’s always hard to get a new coach, but this team has adjusted well to him. He’s a funny guy, but he also has moments where he tells us to not give up on the track.”

Anderson, who competes in the pole vault, also said Monday that this year’s team is better than last season’s squad, which had its boys and girls squads place sixth and seventh at the league meet, respectively. She credits Blum with keeping spirits up for a school that experienced the shock of losing a longtime coach.

“The morale is better right now,” she added. “He’s given us a feeling of respect, and it’s mutual. It helps in every aspect of the sport to know he’s there for us. Everyone needs to respect each other to keep this going.”

The Knights’ next meet is Saturday, April 23 at South Kitsap High School.  The postseason is slated to start May 14 with Class 3A sub-districts. Blum believes Bremerton will be represented in 10 state events next month at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma.

Other top seniors include David Pierce, Damasha Aldridge, Hoang Quan and Patrick McConnell.

Taking to the field with four assistant coaches and a large senior class at his side Monday, Blum likes Bremerton’s chances.

“These kids have their influences, abilities and talents that we as coaches cater to, and that makes us a better-rounded team,” Blum said. “After districts, they’re going to really amp it up more and train hard when the time comes.”

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