PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — On this week 25 years ago, Jim DeRose made his coaching debut with Bradley soccer in a 2-1 victory. And as the old adage goes, time flies when you are having fun.
“No, it does not feel like 25 years ago, and that’s great,” DeRose said. “I’ve loved all my time at Bradley and all the people I’ve met and all the young people that I’ve got a chance to coach. So that’s been fantastic.”
During his time with the Braves, DeRose had led the program to 250 wins and seven NCAA tournament appearances. But for DeRose, it’s the relationships he’s built off of the pitch that mean the most.
“We could rattle off all of the great things, seven NCAA tournaments, four of those are at-large, which is the hardest thing to do at mid-majors,” DeRose said. “You know, it’s the young people, being invited to weddings, seeing people come back. That’s certainly the most exciting thing that we like to talk about.”
Bradley assistant coach Tim Regan has played a role in 10 of DeRose’s 25 years with the Braves. Regan says the key to coach DeRose’s success on the hilltop is his unrelenting energy and passion he puts into the program.
“It’s the people, it’s the program, it’s what coach DeRose brings every day. It’s what the people around him do,” Regan said. “It goes through every student athlete, every manager, every coach. All the people that are involved with the program, he drives the energy for that and so, 25 years speaks for itself.”
“I think the thing I hold in the greatest value is that we’ve been able to be imbraced by this community,” DeRose added. “We are in the top 30 every year in attendance, and I think hopefully we’ve made a difference in the community with some of the philanthropy we’ve done, having people be here. When you win games, winning games is great, but not if you can’t share them with people.”