Heart of the Game: Kyle and Aubrie King’s lasting legacy at UMHB

BELTON, Texas- When you watch Aubrie King drain a three-pointer from well behind the arc, or Kyle King place a perfect pass into the hands of a downfield receiver, it becomes evident that the King brothers have natural athletic talent. You could even say that sports are in their blood.

And you would be correct, considering their father, Alvie, coached high school basketball at places such as Milano and Mumford for 28 years after playing at Temple Junior College, and their mother, Wendy, has tallied close to 700 wins as a volleyball coach at Milano High School.

But that would only be telling half of the story.

Because with the talent comes an unparalleled work ethic. A desire to outwork the competition, and reach new heights despite hurdles in the way.

When Alvie King was coaching football as an assistant at Milano, his youngest sons Kyle and Ben still in elementary school, he was tasked with driving the equipment van to away games. Naturally, his sons came with him, riding in the back on top of the equipment as they made the drive. In a way, it was moments experienced with the Milano High School Football team that fostered Kyle’s passion for the sport.

“Football’s always been my love,” Kyle, UMHB’s starting quarterback, told True To The Cru. “I was 7 or 8 when my dad was coaching football and I remember being so excited to go to practice every single day. I was more excited to be at the high school practice than the players were, to be honest with you.”

For the two oldest brothers in the King family, Aubrie and Kyle, a passion for UMHB athletics came about in a similar way, following their father to Belton in the summers as he coached in the FCA All-Star basketball games. They were also regulars at the Crusaders’ youth basketball camps and games during the season.

“Back when I was the head coach in Milano, I had two or three guys that had played for me and went to UMHB to play basketball,” Alvie King said. “So Kyle and Aubrie got used to going to UMHB games when they were little. They always knew about UMHB.”

“We would make trips to Temple College to watch the early game then go to UMHB,” adds Aubrie, who played basketball for the Cru from 2016-2018. “My dad and [former UMHB head basketball coach Ken] Deweese were good friends so we would go to a lot of practices. It was a place we spent a lot of time at.”

Aubrie King rises up for a jump-shot on the same court that he watched so many games on as a kid (Photo provided by Alvie King)

The passion for Crusader athletics grew over the years, as the two brothers got to know players in the program and witnessed incredible performances by the men’s basketball program. According to Alvie, when Aubrie was asked by a basketball recruiting website in sixth grade what his dream schools were, he listed Duke and UMHB.

“That’s one thing about UMHB,” Aubrie said. “You go to A&M and watch the game but you’re separated. You’re in the crowd and the players are doing their own thing. But you go to a UMHB game, and the players are on the floor, they’re personable, it’s easy to talk to them.”

While both Kyle and Aubrie developed a passion for UMHB in their early years, neither attended the university out of high school. Aubrie, a two-time 1A Player of the Year at Mumford High school earned a scholarship to St. Edward’s University in Austin, while Kyle took an offer to Howard Payne, seeking to play quarterback at the collegiate level.

“Kyle’s dream school was UMHB, but they wanted him to be an H-Back,”  Alvie King said. “They didn’t recruit him as a quarterback. But Howard Payne did. After we signed [with HPU] though, the offensive coordinator called me and said, ‘Coach King, we want to get Kyle on the field, we’re going to move him to linebacker. So, the whole summer, we didn’t touch a football. I got a guy that started training him to be a linebacker because Kyle was an all-state safety in high school.

“We didn’t touch a football for 12 weeks, just working on footwork and getting strong and lifting weights. So the day we’re moving in at Howard Payne, the coach comes to me and says, ‘A bunch of guys didn’t show up, so we’re moving Kyle back to quarterback. So then they start practice that night and guess who is way behind because he hasn’t touched a football in 12 weeks?”

But HPU was not the fit he was looking for. UMHB, and its storied program, remained at the back of his mind.

“In the back of my mind, I was like,’ This really isn’t where I want to be,” Kyle recalls. “I want to be at UMHB.'”

King’s path to playing quarterback for the Cru was a rocky one, filled with plenty of people who saw him not as a quarterback, but as a linebacker or a running back. Not to mention spending his first year on campus on the JV roster. But his dreams of eventually starting in college never wavered.

“I think all my trials and tribulations have molded me into who I am today,” King said. “But being on the JV team was tough. And I knew it probably was going to be that way. You don’t just come into UMHB, a top program in D-III [and play immediately]. You have to earn it.”

QB Kyle King (#17) led the Crusader offense against Austin College. (Photo by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru)

He certainly earned his opportunity, coming off the sidelines in both the victory over Southwestern and win at ETBU in the spring. He finished his spring season as a second-team All-ASC selection.

But that did not surprise many in his hometown, as Kyle is undoubtedly a legend in the Brazos Valley. A four-sport athlete at Milano High School, his list of accolades is pages long, including state champion in track, and all-state in football. But along with it,

“Kyle is famous in this part of the country for hitting walk-off grand slams, buzzer-beating three pointers, last-minute drives,” Alvie said. “Bremond, Texas’ football team had won 50 straight games and Kyle’s senior year, [Milano] broke their 50-game win streak.”

So much of Kyle King’s “legend status” comes from his performances on the field, court or track, but there are also a handful of moments that have contributed to his notoriety as a leader that have nothing to do with sports. Such as the day that Alvie received a call from the school principal .

“We had a principal at the high school and he came to me, and said, ‘Hey I need to talk to you about your son,'” Alvie King said. “I thought, ‘Oh boy.’ He said, ‘I have a son that’s autistic and he started school here. He was in the lunchroom, eating by himself, and Kyle King came and sat by him. Now my son is in heaven because he thinks the most popular student in school is his best friend. You got a great son.'”

King’s selfless attitude has continued to reveal itself through his time in Belton, such as last spring when he and Tommy Bowden were both working towards the starting quarterback job. Quarterback competitions in college football have long been known as a source of tension within programs and between players, but not at UMHB. King and Bowden stayed friends, continuing to help each other. In fact, their friendship goes back to their days in west Texas, when Kyle, then at Howard Payne, showed Bowden around the campus when he came on an official visit.

“I didn’t know if I’d ever start at UMHB to be honest,” Kyle said. “And I was ok with that. I had told myself already that I was going to be the best teammate I could be. If I was the backup, I was going to be the best second-string I could be. If I was the third-string, I was going to be the best third-string I could be.”

Kyle King warms up prior to the 34-28 win over Hardin-Simmons. (Photo by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru)

While Kyle was finishing his high school career, Aubrie was taking D-III basketball by storm. Exemplifying the work ethic that was instilled to both of them at a young age, King earned a starting role in his first year in Belton, in 2016-17. By the time the season had finished, he was the new program record holder in three-pointers during the Cru’s D-III era.

“It was what I wanted,” Aubrie said of that first season. “I wanted to be a guy that had a bigger role in winning games and when I went, I didn’t realize that there were only five or six returning guys and a ton of incoming freshmen. So as someone who has some experience playing in bigger games at the D-II level, I was ready to be plugged into that spot where I played a ton.

Playing for Deweese, who had been like a grandfather to Aubrie, opened the floor up for the 6’4 King, a sharpshooter with the ball in his hands.

“Coach Deweese allowed us to play up and down and fast. We weren’t really deep, so we played only five or six guys. I played 35, 36 minutes a game. It was really fun. It made leaving [St. Edward’s] worth it.”

King, now the head boys basketball coach at Mumford High School, took away plenty from his two years on Deweese’s team, learning first-hand from a coach with decades of experience.

“I came to UMHB as a guy who was a mature basketball player already,” recalls King. “But there would be things that he would say or things that he would be getting on us for, and I’d be thinking ‘I don’t think that’s very important, why are we talking about that?’ A couple years removed, now that I’m coaching, I hear myself saying some of the same things that I was wondering why he was saying.

“I’ve gained an appreciation for some of the things he was teaching us. He won over 1,000 games. If you don’t learn something from a guy like that, you’re wasting your time.”

Aubrie King shoots from the free-throw line for UMHB (Photo provided by Alvie King)

Deweese was not the only coach who had a prominent influence in Aubrie’s life. Growing up the sons of two very successful coaches, both Kyle and Aubrie developed an early appreciation and understanding for the work coaches do. It also is where their innate work ethic stems from.

“I think it definitely changes the way you see things,” Aubrie said. “We were in the gym six or seven days a week. Being around it in so many different capacities helps you develop as a player. You see things in different ways, you hear coaching from an early age. You start to look at basketball games through a different frame.

Kyle added: “The biggest part of that is not even schematically. It is being able to take hard coaching and know that they aren’t doing it to be mean to you. That’s a big part of college. I’ve been coached hard since I was six years old. It’s always been something I’ve been used to, and knowing that they’re doing it for your benefit.”

The famed tennis pro Arthur Ashe once said, “You’re never really playing an opponent, you’re playing yourself, your own highest standards and when you reach your limits, that is the real joy.” 

The competitiveness between Kyle and Aubrie carries over to the outdoor court at home in Milano

Kyle and Aubrie King’s successful careers at UMHB have followed that exactly, no doubt due to the years of watching their parents achieve great success coaching in the high school ranks. They hold themselves to the highest of standards, a commitment to excellence both in their respective sports, and in the community. Alvie and Wendy have front-row seats to being part of this journey, a journey that has seen both Kyle and Aubrie leave lasting impacts at UMHB. 

“They grew up in a competitive household,” Alvie said. “I love it, getting to go and watch my boys do their thing. To me, there’s nothing better.” 

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