Jeff Wonch hopes the success he has experienced as both a player and coach will continue as he takes over next season as the Okemos High School boys basketball coach.
Wonch succeeds Dan Stolz, who resigned last month after guiding the Chiefs two Class A district and regional titles and a state quarterfinal appearance. Okemos also reached the 2006 Class A state final before losing in double overtime.
Under previous coach Stan Stolz, Dan’s father, the Chiefs won Class B state titles in 1981 and 1982.
“They’ve had a basketball tradition rolling at Okemos for very long time,” said Wonch, who played and coached at Bath. “It’s a great opportinity, and I’m looking forward to meeting some of the guys.”
Wonch is optimistic even though it was a senior-laden team that included Butler-bound Chris Harrison-Docks and Western Michigan-bound Taylor Moton that achieved last season’s success.
“The great thing about Okemos is they are great at reloading,” Wonch said. “I bet some guys are itching to get on the court and see what they can do.”
Wonch was that way when, as a point guard, he helped Bath reach the 1999 Class C title game.
“Basketball has been a part of my life for so long,” he said. “The more I played, the more I wanted to play. Then when that came to end, I started coaching (Bath) seventh-graders at age 19, and the more I coached, the more I wanted to coach.”
Wonch became the Bath varsity coach in 2006, and guided the Bees to Class C district, regional and state titles in 2007.
“Our success at Bath was directly related to the effort the kids put in,” Wonch said. “Coaching kids that really want to work makes it easy to be successful.”
Wonch coached at Bath through 2010, and then switched over to Potterville last season, where he has taught for the past six years and plans to continue to teach.
“I wanted to coach some of the kids I was teaching, but this opportunity came about, and I was really excited,” Wonch said.
“Yet I’m really happy and the staff are great at Potterville. It’s a great place to teach, and it’s not a problem to continue there and coach at Okemos.”
Wonch is eager to meet his new players, and see how they respond to some of the offenses and defenses he has used in the past.
“It’s hard to predict before we even get together, but past success has fueled my fire and left me wanting more,” Wonch said. “I hope to impact some student-athletes’ lives in a positive way that I have been blessed by others.”