2015-08-13 / Sports

Wheelock, 23, chosen to lead Lady Norse

Player replaces former coach
By Jay Bushen Of The Enterprise Staff

DAVID WHEELOCK returns to his alma mater as the girls varsity coach five years after his Suttons Bay basketball career ended in 2010. He replaces his former coach, Todd Hursey, who recently stepped down. DAVID WHEELOCK returns to his alma mater as the girls varsity coach five years after his Suttons Bay basketball career ended in 2010. He replaces his former coach, Todd Hursey, who recently stepped down. David Wheelock had thoughts of becoming a head coach in 2010 while helping the Suttons Bay boys basketball team reach the Class C state championship game under coach Todd Hursey.

Five years later, Wheelock will do just that.

Suttons Bay athletic director Doug Periard on Monday announced that Wheelock is the school’s new girls varsity basketball coach.

“We just thought he was the best fit with his enthusiasm and his desire to coach,” Periard said. “He’s a student of the game. He knows basketball and has a strong desire to pursue basketball as his lifetime goal.”

Wheelock replaces Hursey, who recently stepped down to focus on his responsibilities as the executive director of the Traverse City Junior Golf Association and coach of the Suttons Bay boys golf team.

Hursey said Wheelock is the perfect guy for the job.

“As a high school player, he had ‘coach’ written all over him,” Hursey said. “He was a smart player. He loved all the ins and outs of the game.”

Wheelock was a key member of Hursey’s 25-2 team that finished one win shy of the 2010 state championship. The 6-foot-5 forward broke the program’s single game record for 3-pointers that season, burying nine triples against Buckley in the regular season finale.

Hursey credits the team’s success that season to senior leadership, and said Wheelock was at the heart of it.

“Yes, he shot 3s and did some of the dirty work, but his heady play out there was a key part of that team,” Hursey said.

Wheelock said he hopes to follow in Hursey’s footsteps.

“He was always the one that I talked about coaching basketball with,” said Wheelock, who lives in the Cedar area. “When I heard about the position, the first person I talked to about it was him.”

Wheelock, son of Paul and Becky Wheelock, has completed all courses necessary to earn his bachelor’s degree in advertising with a minor in athletic coaching from Central Michigan University this winter.

His coaching credentials exceed those of most 23-year-olds.

He moved through the Coaching Advancement Program (CAP) at CMU, which is cosponsored by the Michigan High School Athletic Association. He coached the Suttons Bay middle school boys team in 2011-12, volunteered at a Traverse City West girls basketball summer camp, served as a volunteer assistant at Mid Michigan Community College and most recently was the JV boys coach at Farwell High School.

“I spent the last five years of college working toward one goal: coaching basketball,” Wheelock said. “I’m ready for the challenge.”

Wheelock admits he has much to learn, but plans to draw from the well of knowledge found in books written by hall of famer John Wooden.

“I’ve read all his books and have his pyramid of success on my wall,” Wheelock said. “The guy was a genius, a basketball genius. His thoughts on life, character on morals are brilliant I think.”

If there’s one thing Wheelock is intent on, it’s having fun. He said it’s the reason 98 percent of K-12 kids participate in youth sports.

“If you don’t do it to have fun, you’re failing as a coach,” Wheelock said.

There will certainly be challenges for the 23-year-old moving forward, but he won’t have to travel far to seek guidance.

Hursey, a teacher at Suttons Bay, said he’ll be there if Wheelock needs him.

But he won’t be looking over his shoulder. Hursey said his love for the game is strong as ever, but he’s ready to hand over the reins.

“It’ll be a challenge, but I know David’s ready for it,” Hursey said. “This wasn’t a job that people were trying to talk him into. He has gone to college with hopes of having this opportunity, and I know he’ll put his heart and soul into it.”

Hursey added, “When it comes to the challenges of dealing with players and parents: When they see a coach is all in and that he believes in the program and the girls, it’s hard not to support someone like that.”

Hursey said the team will benefit from Wheelock’s enthusiasm and, for a program that finished 16-7 a year ago, that enthusiasm might just lead to immediate success for the rookie coach at his alma mater.

“I never dreamed I would go back to the same gym I played in,” Wheelock said. “It’s surreal and honestly it hasn’t hit me yet, but it will in a couple of weeks when I get back into the gym.”

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