Maurepas is turning to a familiar face to guide its boys basketball team this season after the school had to make its second coaching change of the summer.
Garrett Stewart, the school’s junior high coach, will lead the Wolves’ high school team during the 2019-20 season after Anton Schwartz, who was hired earlier this summer, resigned last week citing family concerns.
“It didn’t go as planned … but that’s OK,” Maurepas principal Kenny Kraft said. “I think we’re very fortunate to have coach Stewart do this. He lives across the street from the school. He’s vested 100 percent in the school. He’s been here a long time. He eats and breathes Maurepas green, so we’re excited for this coming year, and we’re lucky to have him here.
“It’s great when you’ve got somebody that’s totally invested in the school and in the kids, and I can’t ask for anything more than that,” Kraft said. “I know he’s going to give us 110 percent, so it’s going to be a really good thing for our school and our program.”
Stewart, a 1998 Maurepas graduate, has worked at the school for 12 years, including a three-year stint as the Maurepas girls varsity basketball coach.
“My whole life has just been dedicated to these kids, and it’s just the idea of giving these kids some stability,” Stewart said. “They know me. I taught them all from the time they were in fifth and sixth grade.”
That could help Stewart, who is working with a team that has no juniors or seniors and is made up of sophomores, freshmen and eighth-graders.
“It helps me a lot,” he said of working with players he’s coached previously. “They know what I expect out of them. The kids already have the mindset that it’s not about this year. Their senior year is what they’re focused on and just doing the little things. Let’s just get a little bit better every day. Win or lose games this year, win or lose games next year, they want to win their senior year, and I can work with that mindset.
“The ultimate goal is just focus on the process – just get them to fall in love with the process of what it takes to be successful,” he continued. “That’s just coming in every day -- don’t play to the scoreboard. Just play to get better and wins and losses take care of themselves. You put in the effort, you can still put a quality product on the court, and people can see even if you lose, that you played hard and you did all you can do.”
In addition to lack of upperclassmen, Stewart said the Wolves don’t have a lot of size.
“I’m still analyzing as far seeing what style I want to play, but we’re going to have to be able to shoot the ball, so we’re spending a lot of time in the gym shooting,” Stewart said. “Because we’re small, we’ve got to be able to get the ball in transition and just get as many shots as we can really.”
Stewart, who was helping Schwartz and led his first practice with the team Tuesday, will coach the team this season, but that could change after the season concludes.
“It’s definitely for this and then we’ll kind of reassess at the end of the year and just kind of see how things go and make a decision between me and Mr. Kraft whether we’ll make it long term or not,” Stewart said. “Once I commit to it long term, it’s going to be until I retire. I’m not just going to do it halfway. That’s just kind of how I am.”
Schwartz coached the Walker girls from 2010-12, guiding the LadyCats to a 29-5 record and a district title in his final season at the school. He took the Maurepas job last month, taking over after Jake Bourgeois moved to his alma mater, French Settlement.
“I can’t give it the attention that I need right now,” Schwartz said. “I feel like I need to be kind of focused on what’s going on here at the house.”
Stewart, who said he recommended Schwartz for the Maurepas job, indicated the team was looking forward to working with Schwartz, but they’re making the adjustment to their third coach in the past few months.
“It’s a little disappointment, but they know I’m going to work hard,” Stewart said. “They know we’re going to get after it, and they know that I care about them more than anything in the world. I’m not going to let anything bad happen to them.”