Talawanda’s boys’ basketball team opened practice today with a new coach who used a new rule in Ohio high school athletics to get a head start on learning his new players.
Jay Newberry leaves 11 years working at the college level to take over a Braves’ program which has had three coaches in the last four years.
This is the first year coaches are allowed fall workouts with their players prior to opening of formal practice. They are limited to four players at a time but the sessions are allowing him to get to know some of his players and their skills.
“We’re taking advantage of the 15 workouts in September and October with two or three groups a day,” Newberry said. “It has enabled me to get to know them and for them to get to know me.”
He has not been able to work with all the members of his team since several are involved with soccer and football and the last football game is tonight, so it will be a few extra days for some of them. For a new coach, however, the rule is a major gift from the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
Newberry is a math teacher at the high school, new to the district, coming off 11 years coaching at the college level. He spent the last seven years at Ball State, the last four of those as an assistant hoops coach. Prior to that, he spent four years at the Division II level with two years each at Augusta and Belmont Abbey colleges.
He is grounded in this area, however. He grew up on the east side of Cincinnati, playing his high school ball at Madeira High School. He went to college and played at Rollins, in Florida. After college, he returned to the Cincinnati area, teaching middle school math and coaching junior varsity at Madeira and as an assistant at Thomas More College.
“I decided I wanted to give college coaching a good try,” he said. “College coaching is tricky. If you are successful, then you are moving around. If you are not successful, then you are moving around.”
Newberry and his wife, Laurie, have five children and another one due in the spring, so he decided it was time to put some stability in his life and he settled on high school coaching and teaching rather than life at the college level.
Their children are a daughter, Sarah, 8; sons Matty, 6, Auggy, 4, and Junior, 3; and another daughter, Cadence, 18 months.
The family lives in Fairfield, near enough to both of their families to be centralized and he now has the stability of a teaching job and a coaching position.
“I always wanted to teach and coach. I just did not know at what level. I grew up in a teaching family,” he said, explaining that his father taught at Sycamore High School and his mother, a nurse, was an R.N. but switched and worked as a school nurse for 20 years.
Newberry’s undergraduate degree is in education but he also has a master’s degree in exercise science, which he figured fit in with his coaching plans.
He said his experience with many coaches has given him a good idea of varied coaching styles and he plans to use what he has learned in coaching the Braves.
“We’re a team that’s going to take advantage of what other teams give us. We need to be good enough to recognize that and take advantage,” he said. “If they guard us a certain way, we need to recognize that and take advantage. We will have a lot of defensive looks. We will be man-to-man, primarily, but at times in games we will be pressing and then try some zone.”
Newberry said his players will be challenged to play smart and look for those nuances but he said those fall workouts have given him confidence his seniors can handle the task and provide leadership.
Senior Warwick Reider is the senior with the most playing time a year ago and Newberry sees him as a leader for the Braves, but the other seniors—Jacob Beck, Jon Joseph, Colin Kimiecik, Eli Mincy and Connor Roberts—will also be expected to provide leadership.
The adjustment to a new coaching staff and style of play may take some time but the new coach is confident his players will adapt and improve as the season goes on.
“I want to put a good product and a good team out there for the community and the school to be proud of,” he said.
The new Talawanda coach also expects his coaching staff to be a big part of the team’s growth. Former head coach Doug Brown will be his varsity assistant and Brown brings a wealth of coaching experience to the position.
“We’ve known each other for ten years. He has been an assistant at Madeira for the man I played for,” Newberry said. “I’ve known him since he was a coach at Deer Park. He has a wealth of knowledge.”
Jayvee coach will be Eddie Glaser, a Talawanda graduate who moves up from the freshman team to the jayvee squad. Glaser played for Brown when he was the Braves’ coach and Glaser is now on the school faculty, in the math department.
Freshman coach will be Phil Landes, of Mariemont, who went to Washington and Lee University but finished his degree at Miami University. He has been in business after earning an MBA degree at Indiana University but wants to get back into education and coaching.
The Braves open their season Nov. 30 with a home game against Lakota West.