WUHS grad takes over boys’ program –
By Mark Carpenter –
It was a long process but the wait is officially over as the Adams County Ohio Valley School District Board of Education, in their July meeting, approved Austin Kingsolver as the new varsity boys basketball coach at West Union High School. Kingsolver, a 2012 WUHS graduate, has spent the last three years as the JV boys coach and will replace Greg Himes, who spent just one season as the Dragons’ varsity coach. Kingsolver also worked as JV coach under former Dragons’ head coach Josh White.
“Counting time in junior high when Trent Harrop was the varsity coach, I have worked in three different systems in four years,” said Kingsolver in an interview with the Defender.
“I care about the kids, I care about the school, I care about the program,” says Kingsolver on the reasons why he decided to apply for the WUHS varsity position. “The board did an extensive search and there weren’t too many applicants and I did my interview and met with the principal, superintendent, and athletic director.”
While the search was being completed and for the sake of the summer continuity of the program, Kingsolver had been rehired earlier in the summer as the JV coach, but in reality worked with the varsity team, and had to officially resign the JV job in order to accept the varsity position.
“I went ahead and did all the summer stuff with both the varsity and JV teams,” added Kingsolver. ” We went to Rio Grande, Rock Hill, had a shootout at West Union and we played really well. Kids played hard though we always seemed to be missing kids because of other summer commitments. We pieced together two teams and it went well.”
Kingsolver is not taking over a “bare cupboard” as the Dragons return a lot of talent from last year’s team, that captured the school’s first Southern Hills Athletic Conference title in 29 seasons. Though the team will likely not be as deep as the 2017-18 group, a returning core of Ryan Rothwell, Clayton Madden, Zane Kingsolver, Bowan Tomlin, and Conner Campbell, should put West Union right in the mix once more.
“I will use a lot of the stuff that I learned from the varsity coaches, especially a lot of the scouting stuff I took from Coach Himes,” said the new WUHS head man. “We will be small so we can’t really just walk it up and down the floor and expect to win games, so we will likely run a lot. I had this group of kids when they were in junior high and as freshmen and sophomores so we will probably use a lot of the stuff we used all the way through. We have a lot of varsity experience in the probable starting lineup, but our bench will not be as long as it was, so depth could be an issue.”
“I’m starting with a fast, athletic group that will work really hard, and they are good kids too.”
One of the issues that Kingsolver will have to deal with is the fact that he will be coaching his brother Zane and his friends, a group that obviously is pretty close to the head coach.
“It was only 19 when I coached Zane in seventh grade and it was a little tough, but now we go to practice and I’m the coach and he’s the player. We don’t have a bad relationship in or out of the gym. Those kids are all really close so that makes it easier actually.”
Last season ended on a sour note for the Dragons with a disappointing sectional tournament loss to Southeastern, but Kingsolver knows that his team has its sights squarely set on the postseason again.
“The kids really care about winning the big school division of the SHAC again, but I think they would be 100% okay with getting second in the SHAC and winning a sectional championship. We’re going to be high energy team and I will try my best to be a high energy coach. I plan on staying in this job as long as I can.”
“We are excited to have Austin lead our boys basketball program,” said WUHS Principal Roger Taylor. “Coach Kingsolver is an alumni of WUHS and currently serves as a teacher in our building. He brings experience having coached at the junior high, freshman, and JV levels for us. His commitment to kelly green and gold is recognized and appreciated. We are returning a varsity squad with several student athletes who experienced success last season. In hiring Coach Kingsolver, it is our goal to not only continue success in the short-term, but also to being stability to the program long-term.”
Kingsolver is a graduate of Shawnee State University and teaches in an MH Unit at the Junior/Senior High School. He was married in June to the former Kara Lockhart.
“I’m ready for a challenge,” he says. “It will be fun and I’m real excited. I don’t want to coach anywhere else, if I win somewhere else it just wouldn’t mean as much as it does at West Union.”