Whatever stamp Whiteland boys basketball coach Matt Wadsworth leaves on the Warriors program is not yet emblazoned in permanent ink.
Three games, two victories and just more than three months to familiarize one’s self with students, fellow faculty members, the building in which you work and the city itself does not a legacy make.
Wadsworth understands that. But at 33, time appears to be on his side.
“This area is a good area to raise a family,” said Wadsworth, who with his wife, Angela, are parents of two young children. “The opportunity with this job is to take the schemes we used at the (Class) 2A level and see if we can do it at the 4A level but with more resources.”
THE WADSWORTH FILE
Job: Teacher / Boys basketball coach at Whiteland High School
Family: Wife, Angela; daughter, Tori, 4; son, Ty, 1
High school: North Daviess — 1997
College: Southern Illinois University — 2002
Major: Business education
Favorite TV show: “Pardon the
Favorite food: Italian
Favorite athlete: Larry Bird
Favorite team: Indiana Pacers
Hired in June to replace Brandon Sorrell (whose coaching contract was not renewed), Wadsworth left North Posey High School near Evansville where, in four seasons, his teams averaged 14 victories per year.
His accomplishments at North Posey are all the more impressive in light of the fact it averaged only six wins during the three seasons prior to his arrival.
“We were able to have some success at North Posey. At one point in my second season there we got up to No. 3 in the (Class 2A) rankings,” he said. “The challenge for this senior group here is they haven’t experienced a winning record since they’ve been in high school.”
Then again, winning campaigns have been rare at Whiteland in recent seasons.
In the past 17 years, the Warriors have enjoyed only three winning seasons. The 1995-96 team finished 15-7. The 2001-02 squad went 18-5 and won the sectional. Most recently, Whiteland finished 15-8 in 2008-09 under former coach Marty Johnson.
Wadsworth is the program’s fifth different head coach in the past 11 years.
On Wadsworth’s watch, playing Whiteland basketball entails, among other things, an emphasis on fundamentals. Old-school as it might sound, he is a firm believer that repetition breeds execution, regardless of which aspect of the game he and his assistant coaches are teaching.
It’s here, being a student manager for men’s basketball at Southern Illinois University during the coaching tenures of Bruce Weber (now at Kansas State) and Matt Painter (Purdue), taught Wadsworth the value of practice.
“I learned from coach Weber that when you coach basketball, the job is bigger than what you do on a Friday and Saturday night,” Wadsworth said. “Offensively, we try to create two-on-one situations with our ball movement. On the defensive side, it’s finding a game plan that can win. Ultimately, you find the things that are your strengths and you play to those,” he said.
“As a coach, the key is to be yourself, and the second thing is to have the players see that you’re working as hard as you can. The third thing is to be a teacher. Practices are an opportunity to learn something.”
North Posey principal Scott Strieter enjoyed four years of observing Wadsworth in practice and during the tense final moments of a close game. He knows as well as anyone how his school’s loss is Whiteland’s gain.
“I miss him. I got the opportunity to talk to coach Weber and coach Painter before we brought him in for an interview,” Strieter said. “We could just tell there was something special and unique about Matt. Any great teacher is a great coach. Any great coach is a great teacher.
“Everything Matt told me he was going to do at North Posey, he did.”