HULL, Iowa | Bill Harmsen is heading to a new bench, but one he knows well.
The Hull Western Christian girls coach is taking over the boys’ team after Jim Eekhoff retired after leading the Wolfpack to an Iowa record eighth state title earlier in March.
Harmsen led the girls program to three state titles in his first three seasons and ends his five-year stint with a 124-12 mark. However, he is hardly a stranger to the boys program.
“I was Jim’s assistant for 11 years and have a strong relationship with the program and Jim, and to be in this position is humbling,” said Harmsen, who played for Eekhoff at Western Christian. “To have the success we had on the girls’ side and to replace Eekhoff is a humbling opportunity.”
Harmsen said his time leading girls made him a better coach.
“To be able to transition from the guys to the girls helped me and I want to maximize that with the guys,” he said. "I want to impact them on the basketball floor and impact them as young men as they move on.
“(The girls’ success) is pretty unbelievable when you sit back and take a look at it. It doesn’t happen overnight without dedicated parents and community and Western Christian has tremendous support from both.”
Harmsen, who also recently took over activities director responsibilities at the school, said he talked to Eekhoff at length the past three weeks before arriving at his decision. Leaving one program for the other wasn’t an easy or quick decision.
“You pour your heart and soul into it and our youth program is booming and the high school program does a great job of leading the young ladies. That makes it a lot of fun to be with the girls and have the success we did,” he said. “When I was brought in in 2000 to coach with Coach Eekhoff, in the back of my mind I thought it would be a lot of fun giving it a shot. But jumping over to the girls was very rewarding.”
Eekhoff finished his 34-year coaching career with the Wolfpack with a 681-143 record. His final game was a 42-35 win over Cascade Western Dubuque in the Class 2A championship game.
That eighth state championship topped the mark that he had shared with Paul Moon, who won the last of his state championships at old Davenport High in 1942.
Harmsen was named the Journal’s Siouxland Coach of the Year in 2014. No decision on who will replace Harmsen as the girls head coach has been made.