From his navy athletic pants and gold shirt with “I am Godwin” in blue lettering, to his quick nods and smiles from school staff, you would think that Brandon Kimble was an alum of Godwin or at the very least, part of the Godwin family for a long time.
But Kimble, who is a 2006 graduate from East Kentwood High School, has been serving as the school’s head football coach for only a couple of years. That is until Nov. 2, when he officially becomes the district’s new athletic director, replacing retiring Robert Hisey.
“I don’t think I have ever met someone who has wanted to be a part of the Godwin family as much as Brandon,” Hisey said of his successor. “You’re excited for his passion for our kids in our community.
“It is a hard choice when you want to move a great teacher into administration because you know you are losing a great teacher. It is the same with coaches. When you move them up to administration, you know you are losing a great coach.”
Hisey said the result will be worth it as he sees Kimble having a positive impact on all of Godwin’s student athletes in his new role.
A Living Example
Hisey said of his decision to retire, “I felt I was leaving at a good time because the coaching staff was solid and I was leaving a good team for the next person.”
Hisey started his career at Three Rivers, moving to Hastings and coming to Godwin Heights Public Schools in 1996 as an elementary and high school physical education teacher. He served as the assistant principal and athletic coach at the middle school for six years and the last four as the high school athletic director and dean of students.
Hisey said he enjoyed seeing the Godwin Heights’ athletic program grow. Among the highlights was a special night in 2017 when both the boys and girls varsity basketball teams clinched their conference championships in the same night.
“The teams were able to cut down the basketball nets together,” Hisey said with a smile.
But what he’s enjoyed most is seeing all the students who went through Godwin return to the district as teachers and staff. “It is truly great to see these former students give back to the district that they felt gave so much to them,” he said.
Superintendent Bill Fetterhoff said Hisey has been an example of that giving spirit.
“From the classroom to the playing fields, Coach Hisey always advocated for our students and their families,” Fetterhoff said. “He is a living example of our district’s vision and mission. I have the greatest respect for his integrity and am very proud to say that I was able to work side by side with this gentleman.”
A Passion for Godwin
The soon-to-be AD Kimble attended Olivet College where he graduated in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
Uncertain what direction he wanted to take in the criminal justice field, Kimble accepted an academic coordinator position at East Kentwood, where he “fell in love with education” and decided to head toward the preventive side of criminal justice.
Following that path, he worked at Network 180 for about five years and most recently was a case manager for Kent ISD’s Project NorthStar. Project NorthStar works with at-risk youth, ages 16 to 24, on workplace and life skills so students can graduate from high school, get job training or college courses, or find employment.
Kimble, who played football in both high school and college, has coached at his former high school and Grand Rapids Union High School. In 2015, then Godwin football coach Andy Dent was looking to re-establish the school’s football program and asked if Kimble would join as defensive coordinator. When Godwin was looking for a new head football coach in 2018, Kimble applied and took the helm.
As Kimble worked with the football athletes, his dedication to the students showed as he talked to them about the importance of a good education to help them succeed after high school. He also emphasized the importance of being good citizens, encouraging players to lead by example and help others.
Kimble also has worked on a recruiting program to help students find ways to pursue their career paths. From the sidelines, Hisey said he saw that Kimble had the potential to have a greater impact on the students of Godwin.
Fetterhoff said that it was that passion that made Kimble stand out from the other candidates.
“Brandon aspires nothing but the best for our students,” Fetterhoff said. “His efforts have gone well beyond coaching and the playing fields. He is a mentor and a role model to our students with aspirations to not only create athletes, but citizens … who act with integrity. I am so excited to watch him grow in this new role.”