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Passionate Ethan McCammack believes in blueprint to rebuild Wheeler
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BOYS BASKETBALL

Passionate Ethan McCammack believes in blueprint to rebuild Wheeler

Ethan McCammack, Wheeler

Ethan McCammack

UNION TOWNSHIP — Ethan McCammack knows the situation and having helped an Illinois program rebuild is ready to do the same at Wheeler.

McCammack, 30, was approved as Wheeler’s next boys basketball coach on Wednesday. He’s the son of former coach Rande McCammack. The elder McCammack was at Central Noble from 1978-80 and at New Prairie from 1981-84

“To say he was a huge part of my basketball career would be a great understatement,” Ethan said. “Just growing up not only seeing him as my dad but as a coach was really special. Seeing how he cared for the other players was really special.”

The Bearcats’ leader comes to the Region most recently from Waubonsie Valley, a Class 4A-sized school in Aurora, Illinois, where he was the sophomore coach and a varsity assistant. He spent three years helping build up a program that went 8-13 followed by back-to-back 27-win seasons.

“He did a major amount of work getting those guys to buy into our culture, learning our system and learning how to play,” then Waubonsie Valley coach Jason Mead told The Times. “I was just really grateful to have him on staff, and I think he’s going to do a tremendous job. Most importantly, I think he’s someone who is in the business for the right reasons. He’s going to care about molding young men and becoming good citizens, and compete really hard and do it the right way.”

McCammack takes over a program that went 2-37 over the past two seasons under Steve Baumgartner. The Bearcats have not won a postseason trophy since their 2010 Class A state championship. But McCammack has a vision to turn the program around.

“I think one of the big things that I emphasize is standards,” McCammack said. “Really having a high standard for everybody in the program, myself included, and then we hold ourselves to those standards. We make a lot of commitments, we get those in writing and we hold coaches (and) players to those standards, and we push to try and hit those.”

Furthermore, McCammack said the goals, which are measurable for improvements, are different than the standards, but also important.

“I think if we can do that, we’re going to start building something that is going to get Wheeler back on the right track,” he said. “Where we’re looking to improve, we’re going to put it on paper and we’re going to show kids, ‘Hey, you said you were going to do this and we’re going to hold you to it.’”

McCammack was quick to give credit to Mead, who won four games in his first two seasons at Dixon (Illinois) before three straight 20-win seasons before taking over at Waubonsie Valley. He said Mead's attention to detail was “on a level I never fathomed was possible,” and that his three years were like a basketball boot camp every day.

Mead raved about McCammack’s presence, and offered insight into what Wheeler can expect.

“The most important things that Ethan is going to bring, No. 1 he cares about kids and he’s very passionate about kids getting good experiences in their high school life,” Mead said. “He’s someone that will bring high standards to the program. A combination of caring about their well-being and just being really passionate about them having a safe place, a good place and also high standards and competitiveness, that’s going to give them a good chance to have a lot of fun.”

McCammack played for his father at Ridgewood Baptist Academy in Joliet, Illinois before attending Moody Bible Institute. He has a full-time job in software development and relocated to Northwest Indiana with his wife and three kids, who he says are excited to get back in the gym.

He hopes his kids’ memories are reminiscent of his when his father was coaching.

“One of things that always stuck with me, I was on the bench when I was 8 years old keeping shot charts, just how much the players came back and would always talk about how they always loved playing for coach McCammack, and how he really cared for them,” he said.

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