Prairie HS hires Tuominen to take over boys basketball program

Falcons hire longtime assistant who filled in for Kyle Brooks for most of the 2019-20 season

A new athletic director with a familiar face just hired a new basketball coach at Prairie High School, and the Falcons are very familiar with the new coach, as well.

After 14 years as an assistant coach at Prairie, Jimmy Tuominen is thrilled to be taking over from Kyle Brooks as the head coach for Prairie boys basketball. Photo courtesy Jimmy Tuominen
After 14 years as an assistant coach at Prairie, Jimmy Tuominen is thrilled to be taking over from Kyle Brooks as the head coach for Prairie boys basketball. Photo courtesy Jimmy Tuominen

Jimmy Tuominen, who was the interim head coach for most of the 2019-20 boys basketball season at Prairie, has been hired to replace longtime coach Kyle Brooks. The hire is pending approval by the school board.

Tuominen, or Coach T as he is called, has been praised for his handling of a difficult situation in the 2019-20 season when Brooks was stricken with Guillain-Barre syndrome. Tuominen stepped up from his role as assistant coach and continued on with the Prairie way. 

Brooks returned as a teacher and coach this past school year, but he retired in June after one final season with the program.

Now, Jimmy Tuominen is the school’s head coach.

“Honestly, it’s pretty surreal,” said Tuominen, who was an assistant to Brooks for 14 seasons. “It’s definitely a weird feeling to say that.”

Tuominen is a 1995 graduate of Prairie. This is home.

“The goal is to continue the standard of making the playoffs, winning league titles, and trying to get to the dome,” Tuominen said, referring to the Tacoma Dome and the state tournament. 

He also wants to build a strong youth program, hoping to get younger basketball players excited about the prospect of becoming Prairie Falcons when they get into high school.

The move is one of the first for the new AD on the job, Manny Melo, who was the boys basketball coach at Battle Ground.

“He interviewed extremely well. Definitely had a great plan in place,” Melo said of Tuominen. “He just did a great job.”

Melo has been working on a move toward administration for some time now. He coached one final season with the Tigers during the COVID abbreviated schedule, then announced he was leaving that job.

Interestingly, Melo is moving to a lifelong rival. Before Melo was the head coach at Battle Ground, he was a student and athlete there. He graduated from Battle Ground — Prairie’s in-district rival — in 2007. Today, he is all about the Falcons.

“I’ve been in and out of the office most of June and July just trying to get my feet under me,” Melo said.

A domino effect of moves began when Erik Gonzalez resigned as the athletic director from Heritage High School. His family is moving out of state. Jason Castro, who was the AD at Prairie, accepted the post at Heritage. The vacancy at Prairie was filled by Melo.

In the meantime, Battle Ground hired Kevin Kalian, an assistant under Melo, as the new head coach for the BG boys basketball program.

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