By Michael Mentzer
St. Mary’s Springs High School Athletic Director Kyle Krueger is savoring the start of his 26th year as an assistant coach to Springs head coach Bob Hyland, his former coach and a man he views as a “father figure” in his life.
It’s an interesting dynamic to say the least. Technically, Krueger is Hyland’s boss, even though Krueger is an assistant coach and offensive coordinator for Hyland.
“We both have to be the boss at times,” Krueger says with a chuckle, noting that he is in charge in terms of overall administration of the Athletic Department.
However, Hyland is the undisputed coach of the players and coach of the coaches. Everything related to the team falls under the Hyland “umbrella.”
“He trusts us (as a staff) to coach the right way,” Krueger pointed out. “He serves as the umbrella.”
That doesn’t mean there aren’t spirited discussions and disagreements along the way. The staff doesn’t always see eye-to-eye with the head coach, according to Krueger and Hyland’s son, Rob, who is in his eighth year of assisting his Dad. They view the discussions as healthy and vibrant and undeniable proof that Hyland is open to new ideas and varying points of view.
Krueger has had the opportunity to know Coach Hyland on a number of levels over the past three decades.
As a student at Sacred Heart grade school, Krueger knew he wanted to play someday on Hyland’s Springs team.
He became the captain and an All-Conference defensive back on Hyland’s first state championship team in 1983.
When the opportunity presented itself, Krueger joined Hyland’s football staff and has been an integral part of the team’s phenomenal success over the years.
He sees several reasons for Hyland’s coaching success, including the coach’s passion and interest in the game, his ability to develop “great relationships” with players, his longevity, stability of his approach and trust in fundamentals.
“The players respond to him,” Krueger said. “They don’t want to disappoint him. They want to perform at the highest level for him.”
That goes for his assistant coaches as well. Krueger and former Springs player, Shawn O’Laughlin, who has been with Hyland for 38 seasons, handle the offensive and defensive coordinator positions respectively.
“It gives Coach the opportunity to look at the big picture,” Krueger noted. “It takes some of the stress off him.”
Krueger also noted that Hyland “teaches what he believes in,” and he has found “a formula for success that works at the high school level.”
Like others who know the coach well, Krueger readily concedes that the once fiery, fuming, feisty Hyland has mellowed over time. That doesn’t mean the fire and passion have declined, however.
“In the ‘80s when I played, guys from the ‘70s would say Coach has really mellowed,” Krueger said, laughing. “Each decade he has mellowed a bit more…that’s probably true. But he just keeps on doing what he does.”
Krueger pointed out that people on the outside don’t get a chance to see the real Bob Hyland that students, players and coaches see on a daily basis.
“People don’t see him telling jokes and stories in the locker room,” Krueger said. “Most people don’t see him breaking down and crying in front of his team and their parents at an awards ceremony or during an emotional moment with his team.”
Krueger makes the point that Hyland is not “just a 24/7-365-days-a-year football coach,” who cares about nothing but wins and losses and X’s and O’s.
“He’s a regular, normal guy…an emotional man who cares about all sorts of things,” Krueger said.