By GARY STALLARD
To find just the fifth head coach in the program's history, Angelina College men's basketball needed to look no farther than its own bench.
AC has named Nick Wade its new head coach, and in doing so ensured they got a guy familiar with the program, the conference and the community.
Wade spent the past two years as an assistant coach under Kyle Manary, who resigned in May. Before arriving at Angelina College, Wade for three years was part of a Lee College program that set a record for wins in program history. The Rebels in 2013 won the Region XIV conference championship and advanced to the national tournament's Sweet 16.
In his two years at AC, Wade has been part of a Roadrunner team that earned conference tournament berths in both 2017 and 2018, with the team advancing to the semifinal round in '17.
Asked about his personal coaching approach, Wade said anyone who watches area high school basketball will recognize his team's style of play. A regular attendee with his wife Allison at local games, Wade said he's picked up what he considers the most important trait for any team.
"One of the biggest things I've noticed watching games in this area is the grit you see from every player on every team, whether it's from the bigger or smaller schools," Wade said. "The way those coaches get the most out of every player is something I want to make sure we do here with our guys. That never-quit attitude applies at any level, and I want our fans to notice it when they come to our games. I want our players to show that same kind of grit."
As a first-time head coach, Wade knows his first task is to build a foundation, starting with his staff and extending toward getting the right players for his system.
"Sure, we want talent, but we also want to make sure we're developing our players to be good men," Wade said. "We live in a great community, where people support each other, and I want our players to feel a part of it while doing their part."
Wade's playing career included time at Austin College, where he led the team in three pointers made and in three-point field goal percentage. In 2010, the 'Roos earned their first 20-win season while winning the SCAC West Division championship.
In his coaching career, Wade has developed more than 20 Division I athletes, three of which went on to professional careers. He's also spent time coaching in the high school ranks, with stints at Conroe Oak Ridge High School and McKinney Boyd High School.
In a profession known for constant turnover and uprooting families, settling down and growing roots is a challenge. However, Wade said he and his family feel they're home in Lufkin – and they hope to keep it that way for quite a while.
"I definitely have to thank our administration – Dr. (Michael) Simon, Dean (Steve) Hudman, Coach (Guy) Davis and everyone else on this campus for this chance," Wade said. "But mostly I want to thank this community for the way it has opened its arms to my family and me.
"I can't wait to see everyone at our games."
Angelina College will host a press conference introducing Wade at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 12 inside Shands Gymnasium. The public is invited to attend and meet the new coach.
For further information, contact Sports Information Director Gary Stallard at firstname.lastname@example.org.