New coach wants Bears to compete as opener nears

New coach wants Bears to compete as opener nears

Image Credit: Tom Rife

There’s a new Bear in the lair just east of Apple Creek. His name is Dane Held, and the 26-year-old head coach is longing to grow the Waynedale Golden Bears into ferocious basketball carnivores that someday will consistently claw their way through Wayne County Athletic League rivals.

“Right now there are a couple of main goals I have for the team, and it’s not about the amount of wins, scoring a certain number of points or anything like that,” Held said earlier this week as he put his Bears through their paces in preparation for the Nov. 30 opener at home against Tuslaw.

“It’s just to be the most competitive team we can be. We had a really tough scrimmage Friday that kind of tested our toughness a little bit. But we battled back and handled the adversity against a couple of bigger schools. That told me something about the team.”

Held is in his third year of varsity-level coaching, having held the head coach spot previously at his alma mater, New London High. He landed the position at Waynedale late last spring, which gave him an opportunity to get to know his players through summer leagues, special events and twice-weekly practices. He gained experience as a member of the Baldwin Wallace University men’s basketball program — three years as a player and a fourth as a student coach.

The environment at Waynedale has been to Held’s liking.

“One of the things I first noticed is how well the people support not only basketball, but all the athletics at the school,” Held said. “That’s kind of always been my mentality, and it’s something I was looking for.”

The boys program at WHS currently consists of 18 players. There are five seniors and two juniors, as well as a capable group of sophomores. The coach’s approach is to match the brand of basketball to the talents of the athletes. He likes an up-tempo style, which he knows demands strong guard play, aggressive rebounding and an array of defenses that can generate steals and turnovers.

“I just got through telling the boys that we can’t live and die by the 3-ball,” Held said. “When we are making shots, I think we’ll be pretty exciting to watch. But we have to be able to play inside-out too.”

Held predicted Norwayne, a district champion by just two points in overtime over the Aaron Shaffer-coached Waynedale last year, and Dalton will be the teams to beat in the WCAL this season. Dalton will be led by senior Jalen Wenger, the Div. IV Player of the Year last year, scoring 22.3 points per game for the WCAL-champion Bulldogs.

“It seems like those are the kind of teams that just reload every year and keep going,” Held said. “I think we’ll have our hands full with them. But there are a lot of good coaches and good players in the league. It’s very competitive.”