Romain L’Hermitte’s dinner table is covered with small diagrams of games with commentary. The season of his club almost always, USO Mondeville, however sadly ended in the first round of the Ligue 2 play-offs on 20 April against Chartres. The coach said goodbye after ten years on the bench. But letting go of the orange ball is out of the question: “I watch a lot of games for girls, boys and the NBA. I make small game plans so I can come up with specific ideas when they call me.” For the first time, a technician will change the air. The end of an era far removed from the good times of USOM in the French women’s basketball elite. “It’s a shame it ended like this,” he says weeks before the end of his contract, which was not renewed by his management. It seems to be a professional world…”
Romain L’Hermite was 33 when USO Mondeville entrusted him with his first command after two years as assistant to his predecessor, Hervé Coudray. The latter, now the National Technical Director of the Swiss Federation, recalls: “He was with me at the coaching courses that I led. He then came to attend several USOM sessions. I offered to participate. The next year I included him in the staff. A 30-year-old player with only a few local experiences or youth team appearances is discovering a high level and even the European Cup.
In 2013, Romain L’Hermite comes to the fore, “with the smallest salary in the women’s league.” The coach knows this, Mondeville doesn’t have big funds, but DNA: training. At that time, Marin Johannes was in the Normand club, for example. “Roman helped me a lot at the beginning of my career,” says spina, “now he is part of ASVEL and Les Bleues. He pushed me when things weren’t going well, but also when things were going well.” Method? “A lot of exchanges, work, exchanges during individual training, difficult seminars so that they realize their abilities,” explains Romain L’Hermite. And also “a basketball style made for young people with lots of movement, reading the game and confidence,” adds the former world-class player.
“I don’t want to go around in circles”
“He was a young manager with young players as well as a few more experienced players. Romain brought the project of the club to life with his family values,” emphasizes Regina Dutak, President from the end of 2013 to 2020. The transplant resulted in an “incredible 2016/2017 season.” We played like in a dream. The planets converged, ”the coach recalls with a smile. USOM finished in 5th place, which Regina Dutak said was a “feat”. The club composts the return ticket to European competitions…only on the floor. The expense of participating in the continental competition makes the management refuse. “At that time it was difficult to live,” says Romain L’Hermitte. But for me it was just a delay. We were about to return. Except that, in retrospect, it was the club’s biggest mistake. One who dreamed of bringing his team of young shooters to the disillusioned continental scene. The beginning of trouble.
“The fact that he did not play in the European Cup did not help him,” Marin Johannes breathes. The club had fewer resources. He never gave up, despite the difficulties. It’s all his merit.” In 2019, Mondeville descends to Ligue 2. Then Covid passes there. The USOM organization is evolving. “Last year I was told that my contract would be extended if the team returned,” the technician said. But from a financial point of view, the goal was almost unplayable. Despite a good second half of the season, the road ends in the playoffs. Mondeville will spend another season in the elite lobby without Romain L’Hermitte.
If a man “doesn’t believe in good breakups” and leaves his club in palpable tension, he prefers to keep “the pride of having shared so much with his players”. Powerful connections, like Marin Johannes: “Sometimes we eat together. We talk a lot and sometimes we still train when I go back to Normandy.” The rest will be written elsewhere for this father of four, preferably in a women’s team. “In our profession, we rarely choose,” comments Herve Coudray. Perhaps Roman will have to wait for an opportunity. But he has a great working capacity to succeed, a thirst to learn.” “I don’t want to go around in circles,” warns Romain L’Hermite, who turned to the agent. Hoping for a base, perhaps for the formation of new youth.