Neff and NorthWood passing torch to Yoder in 2014-15
NAPPANEE — When legendary Wa-Nee teacher and coach Steve Neff announced that the 2013-14 girls basketball season would be his last at NorthWood High School, it was a very bittersweet occasion.
The administration and school board were faced with what could have been a very daunting decision.
How does one go about selecting a candidate that would be worthy of continuing a victorious momentum spanning nearly four decades?
Who would be able to carry the proverbial torch for an enduring program of class and competition that includes nearly 650 wins, almost two dozen sectional championships and a state title?
Thankfully, the answer was within easy reach. With the resounding support and approval of the entire NorthWood community, along with Neff himself, Adam Yoder was chosen to be the successor in a unanimous vote from the Wa-Nee Community Schools Board of Trustees during a meeting on June 10.
Yoder has served as both head coach and assistant coach in various capacities for NorthWood over the past decade.
His coaching career extends to a regional scope as well, in having worked with his alma mater, Bremen High School, from which he graduated in 1998.
Most recently, Yoder received accolades as Coach of the Year for inspiring the NorthWood girls golf team to a state championship, something that has never been accomplished in the school’s history.
Yoder will continue serving as the girls junior varsity coach during the 2013-14 year, while his official capacity with the varsity team will be that of coach-in-waiting.
NorthWood High School Athletic Director Norm Sellers spoke with the board about the process through which Yoder emerged as the best and most qualified choice to lead the squad in the 2014-15 season.
Sellers talked about Yoder’s tenure at NorthWood, and the influence he has had while working with youth within the field of athletics and beyond.
“Adam is an outstanding teacher at NorthWood High School for the past nine years, (and he) has been a part of the NorthWood girls basketball program for the past six years,” Sellers said. “He has had extensive successful basketball coaching experiences prior to coming to NorthWood.”
Because Yoder and Neff have formed such a close and unique partnership in coaching over the years, Yoder has already mastered much of what is required to fill such an integral leadership role, Sellers said.
“Adam has been in charge of our summer girls basketball program for the past three years and has taken our girls teams to numerous camps and tournaments to compete,” Sellers said. “Adam has also been instrumental in developing game plans that have led our girls basketball program to the regional championship three out of the last four years,” Sellers continued. “Another characteristic that has rung true throughout this process is Adam’s ability to care for kids outside the realm of athletics.
“In my observations and conversations with Adam, I can verify that he has an undying love for the sport of basketball and NorthWood student athletes,” Sellers said. “Make no mistake about it, that we both understand the pressure that comes with replacing a legend like Steve Neff, but I am confident that Adam will be able to fill this role confidently.”
Yoder himself was on hand to address the board, taking time prior to his remarks by shaking the hands of each member before proclaiming his gratitude.
“Everyone has been so supportive of me as I’ve pursued my dream to be basketball coach,” he said. “I can’t thank them enough. I really appreciate all your faith in me. I’m very excited.”
In the near future, Yoder added, he’s more than happy to work alongside Neff in his finale season.
“Of course, it’s still a year away. We’ve got a lot of winning to do,” Yoder said.