North Side girls basketball is the latest program in search for a new head coach this off season. Jaymee Wappes, who led the Redskins and Legends over the past eight seasons, has resigned from her head coaching position. She will remain at North Side as a teacher and is currently seeking out her administrator license which she hopes to complete in the spring of 2020.
“I think I had this idea of leaving a legacy of some sort and if that legacy wasn’t going to be to win a ton of games, the legacy should be something that I stand for. I think it was a legacy of gratitude to the game and all of the people who have invested in me over the years and the game that offered so much to me over the course of my career,” Wappes said.
“I think that is why I chose to stay in it was to show there can be a legacy of love, loyalty, whatever you want to call it.”
Shifting into a future administrative focus, Wappes knew she wouldn’t be able to stay as the head coach when the time comes that she is no longer in the classroom and felt that now was a good time to make the transition.
Wappes took over at North Side in 2012 and the then-Redskins struggled out of the gate with a 1-19 overall record that first season. Wappes finished her time at North Side with a record of 26-143 in the program, having her most successful seasons record wise in the last two seasons, going 6-17 and then 5-17 this past season with a group of five seniors that became a focal point for the program.
For Wappes however, the measurement of her success at the school and through Fort Wayne Community Schools was the the impact she attempted to make outside of the team’s record. That came from a coaching philosophy that she developed in charge of the program, differing from one that focused solely on victories.
“I have kids that I wouldn’t trade the experiences for anything. What we do as coaches, especially with young adults like we have is to shape them in some way and help make them good citizens and put them out in society with some tools and good character,” Wappes said.
She cited high support from the administrators she was under at North Side for enabling her to follow through with that vision. Wappes was hired under principal Chad Hissong and athletic director Dale Doerffler, but saw the change to principal Dave West and athletic director Kirk Doehrmann during her time. Those were just a couple of the changes that Wappes had to undergo during her eight seasons, including the change in moniker from Redskins to Legends.
“I think my philosophy as I moved, I took that player mindset into my first coaching job where the bottom line was to win,” Wappes said. “Once I took that first coaching job, I quickly learned that I was shaping my own philosophy as a coach and I think that my philosophy shifted more towards people and kids and making sure that no matter if we won or lost, those people were loved and taken care of.”
Wappes is 39-171 overall in her career, going 13-28 in two seasons as the head coach at Prairie Heights from 2002-2004.
One of the biggest wins in Wappes’ tenure at North Side was their January 30, 2018 sectional game against East Noble. The 38-36 double overtime win was the program’s first postseason win in over 20 seasons.
She will now shift her focus to a potential future as an assistant principal when her administrative license is taken care of. It will also allow her to focus on family life, including her two young daughters. Wappes also sites the recent loss of her father as a contributing factor to a refocus on family life.
“It kind of brought some perspective about family and how you want to spend your time,” Wappes said.
As a player, Wappes was one of the best in the area in the 1996 class as a standout at East Noble where she set records including all-time point scored and points scored in a single game. Wappes then played at Bowling Green and she was inducted into the East Noble Hall of Fame in 2009.
Wappes does not fully rule out a return to the sidelines someday, but says it would likely only be a scenario where she could coach one or both of her daughters. She says she also has considered officiating.
“It has been a huge part of me, who I am, for most of my life,” Wappes said. “I will miss it, but I will find a way to be around the game.”