Brian Bowen is the new Switzerland County varsity boys basketball coach

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Brian Bowen is a winner. As a player at Hamilton Heights High School and Hanover College; and for the past four years as the junior varsity basketball coach at Switzerland County High School; he has never been part of a team with a losing record.

As the new varsity boys basketball coach of the Pacers, he will get the chance to extend that record in the fall.

“It’s one of the those things that’s bound to happen,” the new varsity coach said about having a losing season. “But I’ve been fortunate so far.”

Brian Bowen was officially hired Monday night by the Switzerland County School Board as the varsity boys coach. He replaces David Todd, who resigned after winning the Sectional this year. Brian Bowen has served as Coach Todd’s junior varsity coach for the past four years.

The son of a coach and the grandson of a coach; Brian Bowen’s father coached his son at Hamilton Heights, and had a long career as a coach at different levels. Brian Bowen’s grandfather was never a varsity coach, but coached every level from freshman through jayvee and was a varsity assistant for more than 40 years.

“I ended up going to a lot of practices,” Brian Bowen said with a smile. “I’ve been around basketball for a long time.”

Growing up in that atmosphere, it is normal for the new coach to keep that coaching tradition going. After four years at the junior varsity level, he now gets that chance.

Excited?

“Big time excited,” he grins. “It’s something that I’ve thought about. It’s something that I’ve dreamed about my whole life. I’ve thought about this happening, either here or somewhere else — but to stay here makes it even better.

One of the hottest coaching prospects in the area, the top job opening here means that Switzerland County gets to keep its coach while maintaining a sense of continuity through the transition from one coach to another. He now gets the chance to guide his own program and his own system.

When David Todd resigned last month, he fully supported Brian Bowen getting the varsity job. When the school corporation decided to keep its search internal and not interview outside candidates, elevating Brian Bowen seemed to be a foregone conclusion.

But not to him.

“Working the last couple of weeks has been tough,” Coach Bowen said of the wait for the school board meeting that would make the move official. “I’ve been ready to get going, so now we’re officially ready to go.”

The coach sees this as a real advantage for the entire system, because he already knows the players and their strengths and weaknesses. He already has a feel for what his players need to work on for the rest of this school year and throughout the summer — and his players know the coach that they are getting, because most have already played for him at the junior varsity level.

“It’s about building relationships,” Brian Bowen said of his players. “That’s a key. You have to have those relationships of trust between a coach and his players and between the players themselves. A lot of these kids I’ve coached, so they already know what to expect from me.”

Having the administration stay inside the system for the interview process was also humbling to the new coach.

“I think that was important from my standpoint,” Coach Bowen said. “They had confidence in me and they didn’t want to pursue other options. I really appreciate that and their trust in me. It’s also good for the kids, because their confidence in me was important in what the administration did. It was a big circle, but I’m very happy to be the varsity coach here.”

Coach Bowen expects the current coaching staff to return for next year, but he said that everyone on the staff is working to see where people fit into the system the best. Mark Boggs was the varsity assistant last year; with Adam Dennis serving as a volunteer assistant and Sean McGarvey being the freshman coach.

“Whatever’s best for the kids and the program is what we will do,” Coach Bowen said. “I’m expecting the whole staff to be back in one place or another.”

As he enjoys his new job, Coach Bowen also feels a sense of loyalty and appreciation to the man he replaces — David Todd.

“Coach Todd’s support of me for the varsity job means a lot,” Coach Bowen said. “But I wouldn’t have expected anything different from David. In terms of loyalty and character, Coach Todd’s at the top of the list. I’ve learned a lot from him, and it means a lot that he would endorse me.”

That said, what’s a Brian Bowen-led Pacer team going to look like?

“Hopefully we’re going to play hard,” he said. “That’s the main thing, play hard. We’ve got to take care of the basketball and play good defense. The offense may look a little more ‘free’, but at the same time it will be disciplined. I thought our guys have been good about playing hard, so it’s a matter of continuing the hard work that they’ve already started.”

The coach says that losing all of this year’s seniors means that his first Pacer squad will be a little inexperienced at the varsity level, but with returning guards Travis Webster and T.J. Sefton, he doesn’t see much of a drop off in play.

Because of the large number of seniors this year, Coach Bowen has been coaching his first varsity team this year at the jayvee level for the most part, and he sees that as an advantage. Winning this year’s Sectional is also a big part of the squad moving forward.

“We’ve got a good group of kids who are motivated and want bigger and better things,” Brian Bowen said. “They enjoy the game of basketball, and because they enjoy it, they’ll work hard to get better.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what we can get done.”