BELDING — Jeff Wierzbicki doesn’t know much about Belding High School basketball. But he will learn quickly.
Wierzbicki was hired as Belding’s varsity head basketball coach on Thursday, and he introduced himself to his players and the media Monday.
Wierzbicki comes to Belding from Aquinas College, where he was the head coach of the junior varsity men’s basketball team. He also played four years on Aquinas’ men’s basketball team.
This will be Wierzbicki’s first time being a head varsity basketball coach. Most of his high school experience came from running camps for high school players at Aquinas, he told players.
Wierzbicki said he came to Belding to have his own program.
“The opportunity to have a program and work and build with the students, find out what they have here and take it to the next level,” he said. “Having the opportunity to be a varsity head coach and work with the people here.”
Wierzbicki has a wife who teaches at Belding. He himself will also be teaching at Belding Middle School.
“I have connections at Belding,” he said. “She sees the things that are happening, the good things that are happening here. I just wanted the opportunity to work with those people.”
Wierzbicki will be leaning heavily on his college coaching experience to guide him through the coming season, which begins on Nov. 11.
“The experience I have on the court at a high school and college level and the coaches I’ve worked with the past three or four years since I have graduated from Aquinas College, I just feel that experience and coaching the JV team at Aquinas will put me in the right line to get Belding back to a winning direction,” he said.
Wierzbicki knows he’s coming into a football school, where football is king.
“You come into town and you see the state championship signs,” he said. “I’ve seen, working as an assistant coach at Rockford, sports thrive at all levels. If you can have success out in the football field you can have success on the basketball court or the track, whatever the sport may be. I plan to work with the coaches and the staff and see what we can put together to get Belding in the winning direction.”
Athletic director Joel Wilker said it was the character of Wierzbicki that impressed him.
“I think No. 1, just a quality person and good character,” Wilker said. “I think No. 2, he’s also a good teacher as well. With the opportunity at the middle school that’s kind a bonus to have him as a teacher.”
Wilker is not going to put pressure on Wierzbicki to win right away, even though the Redskins won only two games last year under Brian Babbitt.
“I think the key is we just want him to do his best job and stress, like we always do, we want our kids to work hard, play hard and do well in the classroom,” he said. “I think those are the expectations.”
One of the players that Wierzbicki will be coaching is Brendan Zuver, who just finished his junior year of high school. Zuver is looking forward to next year.
“He’ sounds qualified,” Zuver said. “He coached at Aquinas and he seems pretty excited so I’m looking forward to it.”
Zuver wants to see how the team shapes up.
“Hopefully we have a good turnout and I know that he just told us about all the team camps we’re going on,” he said. “I’ve heard he’s going to run – I don’t know if I should say the exact same offense but a little changeup in offense.”