He entered a program in disarray. He now leaves one on the rise.
On Tuesday morning, Jeremy Powers announced his resignation from the Eastern Hancock girls basketball program.
As a coach, a teacher and as a leader, those around him agree, he will be difficult to replace.
“We were all so close to him,” incoming Royals junior guard Kaysi Gilbert said, “Some of the girls even called him dad. You don’t know if you’ll have the same connection with the next coach. … If I had my way, I’d clone Jeremy and have him be our next coach.”
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The Royals girls basketball program endured six straight losing seasons before Powers took over in 2011. Under the 1998 Eastern Hancock graduate, the rebuild was rapid. Powers’ first team won 12 games, the next two, 17. Last year, with only one senior on the roster, the Royals went 13-10 to close out his four-year run of success.
“He turned this program upside down,” Gilbert said.
In all, Powers’ teams won 67 percent (59-29) of their contests.
As to how he transformed the program so quickly, it’s not a secret, said Eastern Hancock athletics director and 16-year boys basketball coach Aaron Spaulding.
“He got in there, rolled up his sleeves and got to work,” said Spaulding, who sees himself and Powers as kindred spirits because of their passion for the game and heart-on-their-sleeve coaching styles. “He did a great job managing the feeder program, building relationships with the girls, and obviously, he knows the game.”
Just like Adam Barton, the 10-year New Palestine boys basketball coach who resigned in the beginning of April, the 35-year-old Powers is leaving to pursue a career in administration.
The former Eastern Hancock Middle School teacher has been working toward attaining his administrative license at Ball State for the past two years. Once secured, he began searching for open positions last month.
What he found was an assistant principal position at North Decatur Elementary School.
“I knew it was coming,” Powers said of his transition. “This is something I’ve been working toward for 21 months, and my family and I decided now is the time for me to take the next step in my career. My players knew this might happen. It wasn’t a secret. It was just a matter of time. Though, the timing is not great.”
Powers is not exactly leaving the Royals in the lurch, but a mid-June departure is not ideal, he said.
At the time of his resignation, the junior-laden Royals already were more than a week and a half into their offseason workouts and approaching their summer game schedule. In a perfect world, this move would have happened earlier Powers said, so that the new coach could begin implementing his style.
The girls, though, won’t be without direction. Assistant coaches Rex Putt, Cory Rainbolt and Powers’ father Gary Powers will resume Jeremy Powers’ responsibilities, while Spaulding begins the hunt for a new coach.
Powers, meanwhile, will begin the transition to life without a clipboard.
“I’m 35-years-old,” Powers said. “I’ve been involved in athletics someway, somehow since I was 5. Whether that was playing, coaching varsity for eight years or officiating, for it not to be there … It’s going to take a while to get used to. I told my wife, ‘I’m sorry if I talk about coaching nonstop for the next few days. I just have to get it out of my system.’”
That will be a tall task, Powers admits, but he is committed to his new life. He said Royals fans won’t find him frequenting games, and while he will continue to support the Royals, it will be from afar.
“I know coach Barton mentioned he might do a little scouting. I’m not going to do that,” Powers said. “I don’t want to do that. I am going to focus on my career, because that is what I want to be doing. That’s what is best for me and my family.”
In their final meeting, Powers made a recommendation to Spaulding, but declined to name the person on the record.
Spaulding talked at length about the characteristics he will be looking for in the next coach, but one in particular he mentioned might give clue as to the background of the next Royals coach.
“We definitely want to find someone who has experience coaching at a high level,” Spaulding said. “That is really important to us.”
Spaulding said something similar four years ago when he hired Powers. Powers had spent four years as the head coach of Tri High School in Henry County.
“One thing I was really looking for was previous high school coaching experience, preferably varsity,” Spaulding said in 2011.
It’s no guarantee, but perhaps Spaulding will go in a similar direction this time around.
What is certain is that when a new leader is named, it will be the second major coaching change at Eastern Hancock in the past three months. In April, Eastern Hancock promoted Rainbolt from JV head coach and varsity assistant to head coach of the volleyball team.
Jeremy Powers coaching record with the Eastern Hancock girls basketball team
4 seasons; 59-29
“If I had my way, I’d clone Jeremy and have him be our next coach.” — incoming Eastern Hancock junior Kaysi Gilbert.