VALPARAISO | Valparaiso High School's worst-kept secret was finally revealed on Friday afternoon.
Longtime Boone Grove girls basketball coach and current Valparaiso JV coach Candy Wilson was finally tabbed to replace the retiring Joe Otis.
Valparaiso athletic director Herb Hofer made the official announcement at a reception which featured members of the team as well as Wilson’s family.
“I’m very excited for this opportunity and ready to have a great summer ahead of us,” Wilson said. “This has been kind of surreal. Everything happened so fast and everyone has opened up with welcome arms.”
Wilson spent 16 years as the head coach at Boone Grove before leaving to take the JV position at Valparaiso following the 2012-13 season. While it was apparent that Wilson would have a strong chance at landing the Valparaiso job once Otis decided to retire, there was never a specific timeline in place.
Otis resigned in March following the completion of a 9-11 season and speculation immediately began that Wilson was the likely successor.
“Joe has been a wonderful mentor to me,” Wilson said. “He has family in Vegas as well as here and he wants to spend more time with them. (Serving as the JV coach) helped immensely in that I already know our players and know their strengths and weaknesses. I couldn’t thank Joe enough for how he did this because now the team will work together this summer and that’s where you define yourself as a team.”
Wilson said on Friday that she is in the beginning stages of creating a staff, a process that will be aided when her JV position can be posted. Wilson did explain that she sees a role for Otis.
“He thinks he's retiring, but I'm going to put him to work,” Wilson joked. “He'll be doing some scouting for us.”
Wilson led the Wolves to four sectional titles and is in the top five in the state among female coaches with 245 career victories. The Chesterton graduate will be looking to bring postseason success back to Valparaiso, a school which hasn’t won a sectional game in the last four years.
“Candy has great character and a passion for the game,” Hofer said. “She is a top-notch coach and we were lucky to have her on our staff already. There are a lot of openings and ADs looking around for a strong coach. We had one right here and she rose to the top with the energy she brings. She’s a teacher, both in the classroom and on the court.”
Wilson has already been working with the players during open gym workouts as the JV coach and will continue as the school year winds to a close.
“We’re getting ready for a rigorous summer,” Wilson said. “We’re ready to go.”