SYRACUSE — Jon Everingham was born to coach. He’s taken his life wherever the sport has taken him. From assistant coaching jobs at Prairie Heights, Goshen, Grace College and Trine University to head coaching stops at Argos and DeKalb. Last season he helped run a youth basketball program as well as took over play-by-play duties for Wawasee basketball on the radio. Now, Everingham is once again turning a page in his basketball story by taking over a Warrior program that is in need of stability.
Over the past few seasons there has been plenty of shake-ups for the Warriors. The program said goodbye to its all-time winningest coach when Phil Mishler resigned in the summer of 2013. Steve Wiktorowski took over after that with mixed results, but did lead the team to a sectional championship appearance in just his second season before resigning last summer. Everingham found himself in a good position to take the job after watching the Warriors last season with a bird’s eye view. With a full summer under their belts, Everingham and the Warriors are ready to start writing the newest chapter in Wawasee hoops history.
“The radio gig was fun last year but apparently I was so bad I needed to find a new position,” joked Everingham in his interview after Thursday’s scrimmage with Wabash. “It was nice to get to know names and faces last year, but that was really a lot of what the radio job did in helping me for this job. Getting to know them is a lot longer of a process, one that we’re still going through.
“I was fortunate to get hired when I did to have a little bit of the spring and summer to get to know them. Then we had some tournaments and trips over the summer and we started to figure out what type of team we think we can be. I think, where we’re at right now, is further along than what I had hoped for. That’s a positive sign, but we still have a long way to go.”
Wawasee returns a large portion of last year’s team with seniors Tyler Smith, Cameron Schlabach and Tim Conley and returning varsity players such as Trevon Coleman, Cayden Wegener, Jairus Boyer, Jacob Hand and Dalton Pearish.
“We had a talk, as a team,” Everingham began to explain. “Tyler Smith is going to be our guy. He’s certainly going to carry the load with leadership, handling the ball and scoring, if he needs to. He’ll be in charge of guarding our opponent’s first or second-best player. He’s certainly somebody that we’re all kind of going to lean on this season.
“Our other two seniors, Cameron Schlabach and Tim Conley, have been impressive as well in terms of leadership and sharing their knowledge. I’ve been very impressed with how they’ve led the way in helping to implement a new system. Having seniors buy in is a top priority for a new coach and I’m thankful for those guys.”
One player that will certainly be worth watching is Trevon Coleman. The junior has shown flashes of great talent, but has been troubled with development both on and off the court.
“Trevon has some obvious talent that I think everybody knows about,” Everingham said of his junior. “He’s experiencing some real victories, personally. His attendance, his grades and just the decisions he’s been making off the court this year have been an unbelievable turnaround for him. I think what’s going to happen for him is that, the more victories he experiences off the court, the easier the game of basketball will become.
“Him and I have talked a lot about things that don’t really involve basketball. I’ve been really, really proud of him. He knows how important basketball is to him and, so, I think you’re going to see him really emerge for us this year.”
Wawasee faces some big challenges in the coming year. The Warriors are coming off a two-win campaign, its second worst season in history. There is also the matter of the current losing streak in league games, which now stands alone as the worst in Northern Lakes Conference history at 35 games. There is plenty of work to be done and Everingham is just asking for the community to follow the player’s lead in buying-in to the process.
“We have goals, but they’re daily goals,” stated the coach. “It’s very short-term stuff right now. It can get a little overwhelming when you start looking at big picture stuff, especially with our situation. We literally are just focused on winning one drill at a time. It’s cliché, but it’s what we’re focused on.
“We’re talking about winning and victories and trying to get guys to buy-in and, overt time, that will hopefully snowball and we’ll get this thing back on track. Our goal is to be competitive in every game and put ourselves in a place where, at sectional time, teams don’t want to play us. That’s where we are, that’s where we are at. I’m willing to be patient. I hope the community is too. We have great kids, they’re working hard and if we can all be patient, I think good things are going to happen.”
Wawasee opens it season Tuesday night by hosting Fairfield.