September 28, 2021

JCA graduate builds baseball powerhouse in Alabama

Joliet Catholic graduate (Class of 1979) Matt Cimo collected his fourth state championship in baseball at Auburn High School this spring.

Auburn, a school with an enrollment of just more than 1,900, plays in the largest classification in Alabama (7A). Auburn defeated Hoover High School in a best-of-three game series in the title round, winning two games to one. Auburn finished the season with a 36-7 record and was ranked No. 18 nationally by MaxPreps at the conclusion of the season.

“We started really slow when I first came here. We weren’t allowed to play night games or weekdays because we were an academic institution,” Cimo said. “But our enrollment got bigger, and we just put on a lot of camps and baseball just got a little big bigger and the influx of players that we started to get helped.”

Cimo’s post-Joliet Catholic experience proved to be a winding road. After leaving the Hilltoppers fold, Cimo went on to play at Eastern Illinois, playing a part in a NCAA Division II National Championship at the school. At the end of his junior year at Eastern, Cimo was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 14th round of the 1982 draft.

Cimo played eight seasons in the minor leagues as an outfielder with the Giants, Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies and Baltimore Orioles organizations, reaching as high as Triple-A before a back injury ended his playing days.

After retiring from professional baseball, Cimo and his then wife applied for jobs in the Alabama area, both landing positions at Auburn High School in 1992. Cimo has been there ever since, just concluding his 29th season at the helm.

Cimo built the program from the ground up with long-time assistant Tommy Carter at his side for the majority of the run. He was inducted into the Joliet Catholic Hall of Fame in 2018 and was inducted into the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2021.

He is just short of 600 wins in his coaching career and doesn’t plan to shut it down real soon.

“I’ve probably got five or so more years in me,” Cimo said. “I just like it.”


Several area coaches recently were honored with Coach of the Year designations by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association.

At the men’s collegiate level, Lewis University’s Scott Trost was one of 10 collegiate coaches honored and the lone NCAA Division II coach chosen.

High school boys coaches selected were Lemont’s Rick Runaas (Class 3A, District 8) and Joliet West’s Jeremy Kreiger (Class 4A, District 9).

The high school girls coaches that were honored were Joliet Central’s Laura Brumfiel (Class 4A, District 9), Joliet West’s John Placher (Class 4A, District 9), Bolingbrook’s Christopher Smith (Class 4A, District 9), Lincoln-Way West’s Ryan White (Class 4A, District 9) and Seneca’s Ted O’Boyle (Class 2A, District 12).

Steve Soucie

Steve Soucie

Steve Soucie has been the Sports Editor at the Joliet Herald News since August of 2018. Prior to that, Soucie worked at the Kankakee Daily Journal and for Pro Football Weekly.