Vandervaart helped the Crusaders with strength and conditioning under former head coach Kaylee Stroemple.
The name of the head coach will be different. The culture will remain the same for the Central Catholic girls basketball team.
Tim Vandervaart — a former Hoover and College of Wooster standout — will take over for fellow former Viking Kaylee Stroemple as the head coach of the Crusaders next season.
Vandervaart is no stranger to the program. He helped with strength and conditioning under Stroemple the past two seasons. He also served as an assistant coach at Central last year.
“To be honest, my prior relationship with the program is the only reason I put my name in the hat,” Vandervaart said. “I didn’t just take this job to be a head coach. A lot of teams in the area need head coaches. It was about the relationships I had in place with the eight players still left in the program from when Kaylee took over.”
Vandervaart is adamant about continuing the process Stroemple started the past two years. A comforting thought for many in the Crusader program.
“I thought Kaylee did a great job of building the culture,” Vandervaart said. “You could tell the kids loved her and I’m going to continue pursuing the vision she had for the program. The culture won’t change.”
A big part of that culture was making sure every member of the team felt like a key cog in the program.
“Basketball was not the end all and be all of things under Kaylee,” Vandervaart said. “She showed the kids that all of them mattered and were appreciated no matter the role they had on the team. The kids responded well to that and it is going to continue.”
This will be the first varsity head coaching job for Vandervaart, but he is far from a novice. He has spent time as an assistant coach in the Hoover boys program, the Hoover girls program, the College of Wooster and the University of Mount Union.
“I’ve worked for a lot of great head coaches,” Vandervaart said. “I played for and coached with Randy Montgomery at Hoover and Steve Moore at Wooster. I also coached with Abby Allerding at Hoover and Mike Fuline at Mount Union. I would say those are my four biggest influences.”
Vandervaart was a head basketball coach for the eighth-grade team at Hoover. Managing a team will not be new. Managing a team during a pandemic will be.
“It’s been different,” Vandervaart said. “I’ve been touching base with all of the kids on Zoom. I’ve split them into three accountability teams. It’s a way for them to compete with each other and have fun from afar. We do things like see which group can make the most free throws in a day and things like that. I’m just trying to keep things as normal as possible for them.”
There are some things that will be difficult if the coronavirus begins to alter offseason workout schedules over the summer.
“Motivating people to work from afar is easy,” Vandervaart said. “Teaching from afar is more difficult. You’re basically evaluating videos they are sending you. You might look at a video of their shot and tell them to make sure they are flicking their wrist a little more at the end.
“I run a sports performance company and I can give them access to our online video database, but it is not the same as coaching someone in person. Certain types of visual learners may struggle with not getting instant feedback in person.”
No matter the circumstances, being back in the game full time is still a comfort.
“I definitely missed the game when I wasn’t coaching,” Vandervaart said. “It’s a great group of kids. I’m looking forward to getting to know everybody involved with the program and getting to know the community. Coach (Matt) Creamer from the boys team has been a big help when it comes to getting acclimated. Everybody has really been awesome so far.”