By Mike Deak
HUNTINGTON – Jon Everingham has had an interesting few months wearing his coaching hat, or lack thereof.
A unique twist of circumstances in what has been a totally unpredictable time had the longtime coach putting that hat back on Tuesday.
After watching his Wawasee boys basketball team go down in defeat on March 7 in the sectional championship, he became part of the face of the IHSAA, being one of the last events to see the pandemic swallow it. While Nika Prather technically was the last Wawasee coach to work an IHSAA event as Aundreya Wegener was a base scorer at the gymnastics state finals, boys basketball is widely what most refer back to as the shutdown sport as the regionals were cancelled, and all the history that went with it.
In a strange twist of fate, Everingham guided Wawasee back into the IHSAA world Tuesday as a fill-in head coach for the girls golf program at the Huntington Golf Invite. Subbing in for Steve Coverstone, out for health reasons, Everingham oversaw Wawasee’s 411 team score while returning to some of his historical roots in golf. Everingham, himself a fantastic golfer in a family tree loaded with golf pedigree, was more than happy to fill the void until Coverstone returns full time.
“I didn’t have my coaching hat on when we started,” admitted Everingham after Wawasee’s round at Clear Creek Golf Course. “It became evident very quickly that I had to put it back on. We had a girl who was a little frustrated on the course, and I had to do some coaching to get her back on track again. But to be honest, I wasn’t ready for that.”
Everingham, who will enter his fifth year as boys basketball coach at Wawasee, has joined Wawasee girls basketball coach Matt Carpenter in the interim. The two coached golf together at Goshen High School, and Everingham was interested to see how the kids also returned to action.
“Giddy would have to be the best word to describe it,” Everingham said of the Lady Warriors getting back to business. “I’m obviously not a teenage girl, but I think everyone had the same feelings. Even our bus driver. It’s been a long time since we’ve heard and felt that excitement for these types of things. The sound of these kids having fun again, it was great to experience.”
One of Wawasee’s golfers, senior Tate Cowan, posted an 87 in her first action back. Cowan didn’t go worse than double on the front side, but had a couple rough holes on the back. Even then, she birdied the 16th and was just two over on her final five holes. Admitting she left a few putts on the Clear Creek course, just being back was better than her score.
“After seeing some of my friends lose their senior seasons (last spring), now I’m just extremely grateful to have a senior season of my own,” Cowan said. “They had it stripped away. Even if this fall is different, I’m just thankful to be out here. Maybe we can inspire some of the other sports with the way we handle this.”
Cowan’s 43 on the front side was nearly matched by teammate Taylor Cripe with a 44, but a tough back by Cripe had the junior finish with a 92. The other three Wawasee golfers all made their varsity tournament debuts. Sophomore Rylee Firestone shot a 112, followed by sophomore Izzy Losee with a 120 and freshman Delaney DeLaGrange with a 130.
Fort Wayne Carroll won the invite with a 354, 28 shots better than host Huntington North. Vikings star Grace Dill led the field with an 81.
Everingham noted Coverstone should return by Thursday as the team will enter the NorthWood Invite at McCormick Creek.