After five years at the helm of East Noble boys basketball, coach Ryan Eakins is taking his talents elsewhere, just not in the coaching or education fields.
Eakins is making a career change into the world of finance, a move that will take him away from high school basketball.
The news was first reported by Brice Vance of KPC on Thursday.
“This last year, everyone has gotten a chance to be home a lot more and through that process, it was gratifying in a lot of ways to be around and see the little things on a daily basis that I don’t get to see,” Eakins told Outside the Huddle. “Night after night, Saturday after Saturday, I am missing time that I could be spending that I am never going to get back.”
This comes after an 8-15 rebuilding season for the Knights in 2020-21 where they posted an 0-7 mark in the NE8 but held quality wins over West Noble, Woodlan, Angola, Lakeland and NECC co-champion Westview.
“I love coaching and I’m going to miss it. There is not even a part of me that wants to necessarily give up that aspect of my life and my career, but if I am going to be someone that follows up on who I say I am, I need to be a man that has my priorities in line,” Eakins said. “I can’t say that is true when I am spending so much more time at work than I am at home. I love coaching, it is all I have wanted to do for a long time.”
Eakins was the head coach at Bremen High School for four seasons before moving to Columbus North as an assistant for one season. He then landed the head coaching job in Kendallville and has led the Knights ever since, posting a 75-45 mark at the school. In his nine years as a head coach, he is 100-107 overall.
The Knights were the outright Northeast 8 Conference champions in 2018, their first such title since 2001. That year, they also hit the 20 win mark for the first time since 1997. The Knights followed that up with a 21 win season in 2018-2019, adding another outright NE8 title. It put Eakins in elite company for coaches in the state with an IBCA Coach of the Year award and the ability to be one of the coaches of the Indiana Junior All-Star team.
“I tell our kids that the reason why I fell in love with basketball is the things I got from it that really had nothing to do with basketball,” Eakins said.
“I was fortunate to have some really good coaches that taught me a lot about life and what it means to be a man. So the only thing I want to thing about in the future going forward with reflecting on the past…I hope in 10, 15, 20 years, we will find out how successful some our players are with the type of men they turn out to be. The wins are great, the improvement and a couple of conference championships, that’s great but we will find out if some of these young men turn out to be leaders in their homes, churches, communities and that is what this is about.”
Eakins has been a history teacher at the school and the Assistant Athletic Director, keeping him quite busy with East Noble duties. Eakins would have been the fourth longest tenured boys basketball coach in the NE8; now the conference will be looking to fill its second vacancy this offseason.
The move away from athletics will be quite the change for Eakins, who played both basketball and baseball into college at Grace.
“I know I am going to miss it. I know that first practice in November and the week of Thanksgiving, I am going to miss it. I know that a lot of coaches have alluded to coaching being a little bit of an addiction. We will see if that is true for me in a year or two,” Eakins said. “I would never say never. In a few years, if I just can’t get over that itch to coach, who knows what happens. I know now I need to take a break and focus on my family.”
Eakins will now move into a role as a financial consultant with Goshen based Everence. He and his family won’t be relocating but will give him the chance to work with individuals, churches and organizations to help them in their approaches to finances, investments, insurance and more.
“I think I have a challenge in front of me professionally that will help me to grow,” Eakins said. “It is something that I have always been interested in and in the back of my mind, it has always been an area of life I have gravitated to. I really like the opportunity to tell people about how to manage money, make proper decisions with finances and build a legacy for the future.”
East Noble is set to return all but one varsity player next season from their 2020-21 roster.