Will Wade, the new men’s basketball coach at UTC, told the Chattanooga Kiwanis Club on Tuesday that he is changing the culture of the program.
"I want it to be Chattanooga’s team,” he said, telling club members that UTC has been removed from jerseys and replaced with the city’s name. Everything now has “Chattanooga” on it. This move is only one of the ways he hopes to get the city interested and involved in UTC men’s basketball.
In the five months he has been on the job, Coach Wade said he has been working hard and making progress in changing the culture of the team. The core values he is attempting to instill in his players are a compilation of the best things he has learned from the other head coaches he has worked under, he said.
Appreciation is the first thing he wants the team members to realize.
"Chattanooga is a great city and place to live," stated Wade. "It is a city with people who care. The players are provided nice apartments in which to live and each has received a scholarship worth $30,000 per year."
He also commented that they need to be appreciative and be representatives of the city as well as the university.
Enthusiasm is another quality he expects from the team. He is excited to be here and he wants both the staff and players to be excited too. Originally from the Nashville area, he told the club that he is glad to back in Tennessee, and cited the transformation that has occurred in Chattanooga in the past 15 years.
“It’s a winner’s world,” he stated. "Society is making a mistake in giving awards for runners-up."
He wants to teach his players competitiveness because in the future when they apply for a job “there is no second place.” The first year coach added that in recruiting this year, the team GPA has been raised to 3.11 which is another attempt to change the culture.
Coach Wade visualizes this team as playing for the city and supporters as well as for the team itself, and wants the players to buy into the theory of unselfishness.
Discipline is the last of the five values he is basing his coaching style upon. The team members should hold each other accountable. He is teaching the players to “do what you need to do right now” so there will be no regrets about things left undone, he said.
Referring to those five qualities, he believes that instilling them into the players will spill over onto the court and contribute to winning. These characteristics represent the way he wants his team to be branded. Practice started three weeks ago, and at that point he began to take those core values from talking to practice.
Coach Wade said he is looking at the long term with the development of the UTC basketball team. Right now he said it consists of a lot of newcomers, and two transfers will be sitting out this season. The plan is to work hard this year and to build up a good team looking two-three years down the road with the expectation of building a sustainable program. The team has a positive attitude with the hope to get to the top of the conference, he said.
He added that the Mocs had had a great recruiting year and have acquired the right talent that fits the culture he is cultivating. He commented that both the city and area have been a huge recruiting tool. Both make a huge impression on the recruits and players.
Now, he is hoping to get more people to come to the games. The team’s identity will be known as “Chaos.”
“We’re going to play fast,” he said. “'Sprint' is how to describe the way we’re going to be moving up and down the court. It will be an exciting style of play for both fans and players."
He told those present that he had inherited the schedule this year, but in the future UTC will be playing more in-state teams and he will try and get bigger schools to play here. He also said that the Southern Conference is losing a few teams, but bringing back East Tennessee State, Mercer and VMI. There now will be 10 teams that will play each other twice.
“Come to one game and you’ll be hooked,” stated Wade. "The first one is Friday, Nov. 8, at 5:30 p.m. “Bring a friend or 10."