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Berea names Hemenway men’s basketball coach

June 1: Berea College (NAIA division II) named John Hemenway the school’s fifteenth men’s basketball coach and only the third to coach the men’s team in the last 38 years. Hemenway replaces John Mills who began coaching at Berea in 2001. In addition to his coaching duties Hemenway will manage the operations of Seabury Center, a 107,000 square foot multipurpose wellness complex that hosts the college’s indoor intercollegiate competitions and community events.

Coach John Hemenway

“Berea is one of just a handful of places that have such a powerful attraction to me and my wife and I look forward to raising our family here,” says Hemenway, who has a Kentucky connection. His wife, Jessica, attended school at Midway College. “When I visited and saw the impressive facility and witnessed the college’s distinctive mission and commitment to students then I knew this was the next challenge for me. We will compete hard and we will win games, and we will teach our team how to be difference makers on the court and in the community. Ultimately, that’s what Berea’s all about.”

Hemenway most recently coached at Dakota Wesleyan University (DWU), an NAIA division II school in Mitchell, S.D. He led DWU to four consecutive national postseason tournaments, including last season when his team won a school record 28 games while finishing as the Great Plains Athletic Conference regular and postseason tournament champions. In five years at DWU Hemenway amassed a record of 115-49 and was the fastest to reach the 110-win milestone in the school’s history. Previously, he served as an assistant coach at his alma mater the University of South Dakota (USD), Chaminade University in Hawaii and Morningside College in Iowa.

Hemenway had a distinguished playing career as an all-conference point guard at USD, where he started 84 consecutive games and was the school’s all-time leader in wins (89) while leading the Coyotes to two NCAA Division II Elite Eight appearances. He also set single season records for assists (197). In 2008, Hemenway was inducted into the University of South Dakota Coyote Hall of Fame. Hemenway graduated from USD in 1996 with a Bachelor of Science degree in education. He earned a Master of Arts degree in health, physical education and recreation in 1998.

Hemenway inherits a team that earned its third consecutive winning season (19-10) and finished third in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) regular season championship before losing to Cincinnati Christian University in the first round of the conference tournament. Berea ended the season with an 8-4 conference record and featured the nation’s second highest-scoring offense (93.2 points/game). Gone from last season, however, is the nation’s third leading scorer, Mikah Turner, who averaged 27.6 points/game last year.

Hemenway says his first priority at Berea is to recruit the right student athletes for his team and the school. That’s a unique challenge because Berea College has never granted an athletic scholarship in any sport and admits only academically gifted, low-income students. “There are a lot of talented basketball players in this region and plenty of student athletes who qualify for Berea,” says Hemenway. “Why would a student athlete not consider attending Berea? It’s strong academically, the facilities are second to none and the students get a great education.” Berea students receive a four-year tuition scholarship, an on-campus job and a laptop computer.

“John (Hemenway) has tremendous organizational and people skills and understands the mission of Berea,” says Athletic Director Mark Cartmill. “He embraces the challenges and opportunities of competing with a unique type of student athlete at Berea.”

Hemenway takes over an historical basketball program that began in 1895 as the first college team in central Kentucky. In 1923, Berea was a charter member of the KIAC that included five private colleges: Berea, Centre, Georgetown, Kentucky Wesleyan and Transylvania, and three public institutions: Eastern Kentucky University, the University of Louisville and Western Kentucky State Teachers College. Berea remains the only charter member of the KIAC still competing in the conference.

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