Big shoes to fill

Varsity boys basketball coach Brian McCauley steps down after five years on the team


Photo provided by Kent Graham

The squeak of tennis shoes on hardwood floor. The smell of popcorn drifting from the concession stand. The roar of the crowd when that last-minute shot slides through the net.

These are all things that boys basketball coach Brian McCauley is exceedingly familiar with. But they’re not what he’ll miss most when, after five years of coaching at NHS, he will not return to his position next season.

“I’ll miss the camaraderie of the team, the discipline and the focus of getting ready for practice, and practicing each day,” McCauley said. “I’ll miss the close relationships that you build over time with your players. But with me not coaching now, it opens up an area for me to be more available in more areas that I wasn’t before.”

Although McCauley won’t continue in his role as basketball coach, he’ll keep teaching social studies at NHS. McCauley announced his decision to leave during a review of the basketball program earlier this year.

“I thought it was a good opportunity for me to stop and someone new to start,” he said. “It’s just a new opportunity for a new coach to come in and lead and build on the things he likes and change things he doesn’t like. It’s time for him to offer new vision and new focus and to grow and build with this new team.”

Athletic director Leah Woolridge is part of the team of NHS officials looking for that new coach. Since the job’s opening, over 40 candidates have applied. After background research and two rounds of interviewing, a candidate will be selected and announced to the school board on May 21st.

“We are looking for somebody who is of high character, somebody who is going to help provide the boys with positive experiences, someone who is going to teach them how to be a good citizen once they leave these four walls,” Woolridge said.

Junior Alex Hunt, who has been coached by McCauley since his freshman year, said he’ll miss McCauley’s drive and encouragement.

In the chosen candidate, Hunt hopes to see “someone who connects with the team and knows the game of basketball. He doesn’t just try to entertain people; [he] actually knows what he’s doing.”

Over the course of his career at NHS, McCauley has garnered a reputation from staff and students alike for his hard work and knowledge of the sport.

“He has tirelessly worked for them and has an amazing work ethic,” Woolridge said. “I’ve coached before. Coach Oilar has coached before. No one has worked harder at coaching before [than McCauley].”

“His basketball IQ made him stand out,” assistant athletic director Tony Oilar added. “He just knows basketball.”

That knowledge comes from McCauley’s lifelong link with the sport, from when he himself was a high school player at Kokomo High School to his time coaching at Carmel, the University of Indianapolis, Indiana Wesleyan University, Western High School, Kokomo, and Noblesville.

“I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to coach and teach here for the past 5 years,” McCauley said. “But I don’t know what tomorrow has; none of us do. I always reevaluate, like everybody does after each year. I reevaluate my priorities, and if coaching fits in there somewhere it might be an opportunity. As of right now, stepping away from coaching and being available in other areas is important.”

While coaching may not be in the cards as of now, McCauley has created memories that will last a lifetime.

“Every year there are great memories,” McCauley said. “But overall being able to coach great kids and being a part of an outstanding basketball program are the things that I’ll remember the most.”