by Jamaar Hawkins, i64sports
First-year Ruffner Academy head boys coach Wesley Phelps knows all about building programs. Phelps was previously head coach of the Bulldogs girls program before taking over for current Lake Taylor varsity boys Derek “Yogi” Edwards during the off season.
“The task was challenging with the vision of taking our kids from the inner city and paving the right track for them behaviorally and academically. My style of life teachings and coaching tactics were new to a lot of guys so adjustments had to take place in how the boys conduct themselves from the classroom to the practice gym. I hold my guys accountable with no excuse,” Phelps noted.
Less than two years out of high school, Phelps was a varsity boys head coach at tiny Chesapeake Bay Academy. A few years later, he started an AAU program, Tidewater Wildcats, with current Norview varsity girls head coach Jonathan Wilson. Phelps points to coaches like Wilson and Booker T coach Vincent Bryant who have produced successful high school girls programs mentors in his coaching career.
“I was so invested into thinking of ways to get my boys to win against teams that mattered, so I’d spend countless nights on the internet ordering DVD’s, studying other coaches and picking up tactics of how to become a better coach. I did that consistently for four years. I think those four years of consistent learning and finding different ways to win shaped me into the coach I am today,” said Phelps.
Ruffner, will open up the 2020 regular season at home vs Norview on February 18. According to Phelps, much of the Bulldogs hopes this season with rest on a trio of players.
“On the court, it’s been a challenge learning the kids’ strengths, weaknesses and putting it all together. But I think with the leadership of Elijah Washington, Rodney Baines and Kamari Diggs we’re in good shape,” Phelps added.