The Woodside Wolverines have a new Head Boys Basketball Coach and it's a face familiar to many that follow the Newport News program as well as the sport around the Hampton Roads area.
On Tuesday morning, Athletic Director Bob Robbins announced the hiring of Stefan Welsh, who won back-to-back state titles as a player for the Wolverines in 2004-05 before going on to play College Basketball in the SEC at Arkansas.
"This is a dream job for me to go back to my High School and where I grew up as a young kid. To me, this job is what Kentucky means to John Calipari, what Alabama means to Nick Saban and what Syracuse means to Jim Boeheim," Welsh told VirginiaPreps.com.
"My overall goal is to help these guys develop and be really good role models, students and athletes. We want them ready to compete from day one not only on the court, but also in the classroom."
Welsh, who'll turn 30 on November 17th, is the second former State Championship winning player in as many weeks to be named a Head Basketball Coach in Tidewater. Maury High in Norfolk hired Brandon Plummer, a state title winning player at Booker T. Washington in 2005-06, just last week.
"Stefan is a huge part of the Woodside basketball history. Being a leader on Woodside's back-to-back State Championship teams, he knows what it takes to compete and win on this level," Robbins stated.
"In hiring Stefan, we had an opportunity to embrace Woodside's history and our community to bring excitement back to our basketball program, and couldn't pass on those opportunities. He is unbelievably dedicated and loyal to Woodside with lofty goals for our program. I am excited to see our program grow under his leadership."
The Woodside job became vacant in early April when Steve Jecewiz stepped aside after going 21-11 over two seasons, which included taking over for Ed Huckaby (now an assistant at Maryland-Eastern Shore) before the school's run to a regional title and State Tournament appearance in 2016.
This past season, Woodside went 14-10 overall with senior wings Taqwain Drummond (14.9PPG) and Tahjay Jacobs (13.6PPG) leading the way. Drummond signed with Coppin State in the MEAC. The Wolverines saw their season come to a close in a 58-54 loss to Oscar Smith in the Monitor-Merrimac Conference 2 Tournament semifinals.
Currently, Welsh also coaches with the Boo Williams 17-Under travel team that'll be participating in the Nike EYBL Peach Jam later this week. For part of the 2016-17 campaign, he served as a varsity assistant and Head J.V. Coach at Bishop Sullivan in Virginia Beach, Prior to that, he spent a year as an assistant at Denbigh High in Newport News as well.
Woodside's Glory Days:
As a player with the Wolverines, Welsh had some memorable moments, maybe none more so than his career-high 40 points in a 102-75 rout of Lake Taylor in the 2004 Eastern Region semifinals. The next year, he averaged 18.8 points per game on his way to First Team All-State honors in a lineup that featured three other Division I recruits in Calvin Baker (UVA and William & Mary), Willie Bell (VMI) and Sam Atupem (Mount St. Mary's).
"Calvin, Willie Bell, Sam Atupem and myself, we all did some really good things not only for Woodside, but the city of Newport News, the Peninsula District and the '757' as a whole," Welsh commented. "We're going to try to reinvent some things I learned on my journey and make it good for the kids."
Outside shooting was Welsh's specialty. At Arkansas, he scored 808 points over four seasons with more than half of those - 420 - coming on 140 makes from behind the three-point line. His best season with the Razorbacks came his junior year in 2008-09 when he averaged 11.5 points per game.
Welsh is looking to hit the ground running and get the Wolverines to produce positive results along with college-ready prospects.
"We're going to play fast and we're definitely going to press. We're going to execute our sets and work extremely hard. We're going to try to run this thing like a Division I program," remarked Welsh.
"Starting in the summer time, we'll have study hall pretty much every day, a weight room regimen, an individual skill session, conditioning session and a team practice session we'll go by. My thing is that hopefully all my guys go on to play College Basketball if that's what they desire to do and not have any transition periods when they get to the next level."
Can Welsh Bring Stability Back?
Woodside is used to winning. In 22 seasons, the Wolverines have finished below .500 just four times.
With Welsh, the Wolverines hope they've found the guy to bring them sustained success. He becomes the program's ninth Head Basketball Coach and fourth since the 2014-15 campaign.
"I plan on being here for the long haul. I want to get it back to a national level when we were able to play the Oak Hill's, Bishop O'Connell's and all the teams like that," Welsh said.
"I know it's going to be a process, but I'm committed to the process, my city and the school. We're going to get this thing going in the right direction."
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