Brady Wells has returned to the scene of his prime.
For 11 seasons, Wells worked the sideline at Scottsburg, coaching the Warriors to three sectional championships and a regional title before departing to become an assistant at Hanover College. After five years, he is back, although under less-than-ideal circumstances.
Wells was named the head coach after Jacob Johanningsmeier resigned the position on Friday. Wells, 156-90 during his first tenure from 1997 to 2008, made his second debut with a 77-59 loss at New Albany on Saturday, dropping the Warriors to 5-6.
Wells, who kept his teaching position at Scottsburg Middle School while coaching at Hanover, was already back as an assistant under Johanningsmeier, who played for Wells. So that transition was not hard. But the timing, and the midseason change, made the move awkward.
“That’s the most difficult thing about it, trying to figure out what we can do at this point in terms of going forward,” Wells said. “The kids are used to certain things, and I have to be able to put some of my touch on that as well. But I won’t be able to throw everything at them right away.”
Continuity is also an issue. Wells is now the fourth coach in the last six years, following Brent Keck (22-20 in two seasons), Anthony Winchester (3-18 in one year) and Johanningsmeier (12-30 in two-plus seasons). Rebuilding will not be easy, or immediate.
“That’s been one of the issues,” Wells said. “It’s hard to have that continuity. I’m hoping to bring a sense of stability back. It’s building the whole thing back, getting some pride back in the program. I’m hoping I can pick up on that.”
Wells got his start as the girls’ coach at Salem, going 77-41 in six seasons. After serving as a Scottsburg assistant under Tony Bennett (the former Indiana state superintendent) for three years, he took over the Warriors and stamped his press-and-run, high-energy style on the program.
The Warriors might not be ready for that system. They face a brutal second-half schedule, and a complete scrapping of the offense, with only six weeks before the state tournament, would be a problem.
“That might be a work in progress,” Wells said. “I’m taking the approach of just trying to prepare ourselves. Our focus will be on the things we can do and the adjustments we can make, trying to get better.”
Scottsburg athletic director Al Rabe expects an adjustment period.
“Any time you change coaches, whether it’s in the summer or midstream, it is an adjustment,” Rabe said. “Hopefully this won’t be as bad because Brady was on staff. He knows the kids, so the transition won’t be as drastic.”
Wells believes he is a better coach following his stint in Hanover.
“I feel like I learned a ton in the time I was there,” he said. “I got to work in a great program. I learned a lot of the detail things, and a lot of the teaching points of the game. I’m excited to see if I can translate that into the high school game.”
Wells envisioned returning as a head coach — just not with Scottsburg.
“When I left, I felt like I was moving on,” he said. “I felt at some point I would like to get back in the high school game, but I didn’t imagine it would be here. Things have a funny way of working out. But it’s nice to see a lot of familiar faces when you go to the gym. In some ways, it’s like old home week.”