Joe B. Stewart, a 1975 McClain graduate, was hired as the new varsity boys’ basketball Head Coach by the Greenfield Exempted Village School District Board of Education last month. Stewart was hired to replace Jesse Mitchell who had coached the Tigers since 2015.
Stewart has coached in many different communities over the course of his coaching career but felt a need to return to his alma mater.
“I’ve coached in communities to the north, south, east, and west of McClain, but I think I would feel like I’d really missed something to not receive the opportunity to coach in the school and community that equipped and encouraged me to coach.
“I love teaching young people and basketball. The game gives us the opportunity to use today’s game, practice, or challenge to develop tomorrow’s leaders, workers, husbands, fathers and friends, a truly rewarding experience. To finally get the chance to teach in that fashion at my alma mater is an incredible opportunity that we are looking forward to. I’ve found our guys at McClain this summer to be very coachable with a very real love of the game and competition,” said Stewart.
During his time as a student athlete at McClain High School in the mid-1970’s Stewart played basketball under varsity coach Sam Snyder and JV coach Joe Current. He also served as the varsity assistant to both coaches during his time at Wilmington College. Stewart points to those years as having formed the foundation that he has built his career on.
“To have the opportunity to coach at McClain High School, where I was first inspired to be a coach is special to me beyond my ability to explain. I was blessed to play on a great high school team (1975 District Champion and Regional Finalist) with a great coach and great teammates that remain some of my closest friends. While in college, I served as the varsity assistant for my high school coach, Sam Snyder, and JV coach, Joe Current, who was an early encourager of mine at Buckskin Elementary. Due to their influence, two great parents, my high school team experience, and some very special educators at McClain and Wilmington College, I have taken that foundation and built a coaching career,” Stewart said.
The experience that Stewart has, in similar rebuilding situations to the one the McClain basketball program finds itself facing, gave him the tools he needs to lead the McClain boys.
“My experience in similar rebuilding situations and my desire to make a difference to serve the young men in the school community that encouraged and equipped me for my teaching and coaching career I love greatly excites me,” said Stewart.
Many Hillsboro basketball fans will remember Stewart as the two time head coach of the Indians from 1987-1990 and again from 2003-2007. Stewart looks back on his time at Hillsboro with pride at what his teams were able to accomplish.
“My two tenures at Hillsboro were very special years in my life, great players and teams, and my continued relationships with many of those players I consider some of my shiniest trophies. Near high school rivalries fuel the fire that drives athletes to plan, prepare, and perform their best when their best is needed, it sharpens competitive people. I left Hillsboro with a winning team on each level, very proud of what we accomplished there. But for the past 17 years, I’ve lived back in the Greenfield community since marrying the love of my life, my wife, Debbi, also a 1975 McClain graduate. It is special for us both to be so involved in the life of young people in a community that loves the game and what it teaches,” Stewart said.
Stewart has been in rebuilding situations many times and believes he has the “recipe” to turn things around at McClain.
“My experience in rebuilding situations the past 36 years has led me to identify and believe in a process, one of my assistants called it a recipe that has resulted in seeing things turn around. I believe that good people, doing things right makes success just a matter of time. Toward that end, we begin with teaching core values of passion, unity, servanthood, humility, and thankfulness. We seek to make our guys into learners who value pursuing excellence with an attention to detail. We try to teach them to be a team that will not beat themselves, be hard to play against by being tough defensively, and creating extra chances to win through ball security, rebounding, and the free throw situation. Basketball has technical parts and people parts, and developing a relationship of mutual respect and trust the most critical factor in turning things around,” said Stewart.
Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.