When John Wardell was in seventh grade he was almost 6 feet tall and the basketball coach threw him a basketball and said, “You got to play basketball.”
That is how he got started and he hasn’t left the court since. John played while he was in college at the U.S. Naval Academy and has been coaching for almost 20 years for various recreational leagues and high schools. This past season was John’s second at AACC and he led the women's basketball team to the NJCAA Region XX Championship in February. The team won the Region XX DIII Women’s Basketball Championship and finished with an 18-10 record.
“It is an exciting brand of basketball,” said John. “[The team members] know when to slow down and when to pick it up. We have gotten really good at reading our opponent and trying to force the opponent to play our game. If you come and watch us play, I think you will see a different side of basketball."
John said that the greatest strength of the basketball team is the commitment to the game. They play a very long season and practice almost every day starting in October. John is also very committed to the game and building the team. He will host open gyms in September.
“I want all of them to be the star of the team in their own way,” said John. “It doesn’t have to mean that you score the most points or get the most rebounds. It could mean that you are the star in being the defensive stopper or someone who gives someone else a 4 to 5 minute break. You are a star of the team in your role. I want everyone to be a leader in some fashion rather than just a member of the team.”
John is looking for a team manager, scorekeepers and other additional help.
"These volunteer positions are part of the team and the individuals will travel with the team and get all the benefits that any team member receives," said John. "They are great for those who feel that they cannot play but still want to be part of a team effort. These positions are as important to our success as any other part of the team."
John said he wants to provide the women with the opportunity to play basketball, to better themselves, to learn individualism in the teamwork concept, and help them get to a 4-year university, if they want to.
“A lot of students come [to AACC] and are not sure what they want to do," said John. "They are not even sure if they want to play a sport or not. Playing at a community college gives them the opportunity to see if they really want to make the commitment to play a college sport without a lot of pressure to do so. And if some of them want to play at a four-year university or college, this is a great opportunity for them.”
John hopes to lead the team back to Nationals next year and finish in the top 4 or higher. He is also looking forward to becoming a grandfather in September, seeing his financial services and property and casualty businesses do well, and planning his and his wife’s retirement. But don’t worry, he isn’t leaving the court yet. He plans on coaching for many more years.
The women’s basketball schedule can be found online. Practices for the 2006 season will start in October, with games starting in November. For more information on the team and/or open gyms, call John Wardell at 410-703-4625 or e-mail him!