AKRON – There’s no doubt that Chad Patrick is well prepared to be a high school basketball head coach.
He’s played for and learned from one of the very best ever to pace the sidelines in the illustrious history of hoops in the Hoosier State.
Patrick, who has served as the assistant coach for his father Bill for the last 19 years, was approved Monday night to take over the Tippecanoe Valley boys basketball program.
The younger Patrick, who was a fine player for his father at Whitko High School, is ready for the opportunity that he has spent his life preparing for.
“I’m thankful for this opportunity,” said Patrick. “I love this community. It’s an amazing community. I feel like this is meant to be. This is what I love to do and what I was born to do. Sports has been my love and my passion since I was playing T-ball six nights a week in three leagues when I was four years old.
“It’s quite the challenge with the record and resume that my Dad has. I feel that if anyone can do it that I can. And he’s still going to be a big part of it.”
The elder Patrick, who stepped down as head coach in mid-May, will now serve as an assistant coach for his youngest of two sons. Hall of Famer Bill Patrick, a 1956 Sidney High School graduate, ended his coaching career with a mark of 765-319 in 48 seasons, including a 287-139 record the past 19 seasons at Valley. His 765 wins ranks second in Indiana history, trailing only the 806 games won by Jack Butcher.
“Chad has earned this,” said Bill Patrick. “He has a lot of experience and knows the game. He’s been on the bench for a lot of years. I don’t think that they could have found anyone better for the job.
“This is something that Chad wants to do and he is willing to put the time and work into it. I think that he will do a really good job.”
Valley Athletic Director Duane Burkhart says they made a good choice moving forward.
“Chad was the strongest candidate for the position,” said Burkhart. “We ended up with a total of six candidates (eight had originally applied) and we interviewed three of those. Our committee went into the process with an open mind.
“Chad has a lot of strengths. He is familiar with the personnel we have and he’s familiar with our conference and our opponents. He has a lot of knowledge and insight into the game and is very organized.”
The younger Patrick, who is 45, says that this is the right time for him to be a head coach.
“Everything with the timing is just perfect now,” said Patrick. “With the job that I have now (working for North Central Co-Op in Mentone) it works out.”
Chad Patrick says that the tragic death of close friend Scott Smith opened his eyes. Smith, along with his father Charlie, former Valley football coach and guidance counselor Scott Bibler and retired Sprint car driver Tony Elliott, were killed in a plane crash back in October of 2015 as they flew to a Notre Dame football game in South Carolina. Scott Smith was a lawyer and his father Charlie, who was piloting the plane, was a Warsaw city councilman and former Valley football coach. All four of the men lived in Warsaw and were very well-known, respected and loved by their community.
Patrick played basketball against Scott Smith in high school when Smith was at Valley and Patrick at Whitko.
“That was a life-changing experience for me,” said Patrick of the tragedy. “It made me see what my purpose was and that was to be a basketball coach. Scott was my best friend. I went on those road trips with those guys all the time. That could have been me in the plane that day.”
Patrick, who spent nine years as a high school basketball official, has a daughter Emma in fifth grade and a son Landon in fourth grade. The 1990 Whitko graduate, who went on to play at Grace College, will also be an assistant football coach at Valley in the fall. Patrick, who also played football in high school, will be on the staff for new head coach Stephen Moriarty.
The younger Patrick, who is still going strong despite a total of 12 sports-related surgeries (including five on his back), will count on his father a great deal moving forward.
“Dad is the best preparation coach that I have ever seen,” noted Chad. “His attention to details and his scouting work is amazing. The way that he also handles kids is incredible. He’s just been great through all of this.”
Patrick inherits a Valley team that went 10-14 overall and 4-5 in Three Rivers Conference play this past season. They graduated five seniors, including their top three scorers and will have just one senior next year.
“People will see the same last name as coach, but there will be a different style to how we play,” noted Patrick. “There will be a lot of similarities, but there will definitely be some changes too.
“I think that we will put a good product on the floor. We will be young next year, but these kids are buying in to what I want to do. They get along great. They work hard and are a close-knit bunch.”