CHAMPAIGN — Jay Price needed less than 24 hours on the job as St. Thomas More’s girls’ basketball head coach to start assembling his staff.
Former Eastern Illinois University head coach John Klein — who coached Fort Hays’ women’s team to a national title in NAIA in 1991 — will be Price’s varsity assistant.
“When I took the position, John was the first person I asked to help me,” Price said. “He’ll be a big asset. He’ll be my right-hand guy.”
Like Price, Klein will not be on the St. Thomas More faculty. He works at Human Kinetics as a senior sales manager.
Also like Price, he has been volunteering to coach middle school basketball at St. Matthew, where his wife, Petrece, is the principal. He plans to juggle his schedule next school year to coach at St. Thomas More and St. Matthew, where his son Tanner will be an eighth-grader.
Klein’s last year at EIU was during the 1998-99 season. He started at Human Kinetics shortly thereafter. As for a return to coaching, “I’ve thought about it from time to time,” he said. “I’m happy with my work at Human Kinetics. I like to volunteer where I can.”
Price expects to add as many as three more assistants.
“We’ll slowly start piecing it together,” he said.
Klein, who has 17 years of experience coaching women’s basketball at the collegiate level, said he is “excited to help any way I can.” He did not see the Sabers play in person last season but watched the Class 2A state tourney games on television and also “saw a couple of practices,” he said.
He expects the program to continue to thrive.
“Coach Price will definitely take the program to even higher heights. I’ll learn a lot,” he said. “I’m honored he asked.”
He is the second family member to be part of an area girls’ basketball coaching staff. Petrece Klein was Mahomet-Seymour’s head coach from 1996 to 2000.