Q+A With Clay Wawner, Head Boys’ Basketball Coach
Residential Director Clay Wawer stepped into the Head Boys’ Basketball Coach position this winter assisted by US teachers Tyler Hill and Connor Miranda-Wade ’05. With COVID safety protocols in place, practices and games will look different and demand a bit of creativity for him, his coaches, and the 18 boys on the court but that doesn’t stop Clay’s confidence and enthusiasm for a great season ahead.
Q: What are your hopes for the season?
Clay: My hope is for us to come together as a team, and focus on getting better every day and learn more about the game. With so much uncertainty this year, we cannot expect anything and cannot take anything for granted. If we are able to compete, I hope the guys enjoy themselves and love playing.
Q: Strengths and weaknesses to work on?
Clay: Being my first year as coach, one of the things that we are working on is our communication and for the players, learning a new system and what to expect from me as a coach and what I expect from them each day. We have a great group of guys that love to play the game, so that is a wonderful start, now we need to be honest with who we are as individuals and as a team and continue to work on the things that we need to improve.
Q: What are you excited about most about this season?
Clay: I am just excited to be coaching again. Coaching is one of the things that I have missed since being here, so it is great to have the opportunity to connect with students and the school in this way and get back to planning practices, looking at our players strengths and weaknesses and trying to maximize everyone's ability.
Q: What’s your coaching background?
Clay: I was the head coach for JV basketball and varsity lacrosse at the Miller School of Albemarle in Charlottesville, VA for 5 years. I also helped run the strength and conditioning program for both the basketball and lacrosse teams in the off-season.
Q: What's your background in basketball?
Clay: I played basketball growing up and played for three years in high school. I went on to play lacrosse at Denison University following high school. While at Miller, I coached JV basketball and helped out with the varsity program, which produced a number of Division I players. I am from a family of teachers and coaches, with uncles and cousins all in coaching as a profession, and my brother is currently the head basketball coach at Hawaii Prep on the Big Island. We are always calling each other to talk about our teams, what systems fit our personnel. It is a really fun connection to have especially since we all live so far away.
Q: Any fun or inspirational thoughts on the season?
Clay: One of our themes this year is "make the next play." Basketball is a fast-paced game, and if you make a mistake and hang your head, then you are going to miss out on the next opportunity to make a play. I think this is a really good analogy for everything that is happening right now, with so many uncertainties each day, all we can do is take what comes and try and move on from there.
Q: How have you adjusted to following safety protocols?
Clay: In terms of protocols, we are currently practicing in masks, we have 'socially distant' water breaks and use hand sanitizer every 20 minutes or so, we clean off the equipment after every practice, wash the jerseys, etc. and we keep the doors to the gym open to increase airflow. The guys have done a great job with our protocols and though it is uncomfortable at times, have adapted and understand the bigger picture and the alternative which is potentially not playing at all.
SCHEDULE (Subject to cancellation due to COVID)
First game for now is scheduled for January 12 vs. Richfield. JV/5:00 p.m.; Varsity 6:30 p.m.
All home games are held in the Fishtank.