In the 17 seasons since Terre Haute South captured the IHSAA Class 4A state championship in girls basketball — 2001-02 — it has finished with winning records nine times.
But four of those were with Alan Maroska as head coach, the same person who guided the powerhouse ‘01-02 squad, and he hasn’t been around since 2007-08. Also, no winning seasons have occurred since 2012-13 when Cara Stuckey coached the Braves to a 16-8 mark.
Stuckey’s final three seasons at the helm ended with marks of 7-14 (2013-14), 9-13 (2014-15) and 12-12 (2015-16). Former Indiana State men’s player Richie Adderley took over the program in 2016 and his season records were 7-15 (2016-17), 11-13 (2017-18) and 8-15 (2018-19) before he stepped down in April.
Glancing at those numbers, South’s glorious 2001-02 season seems like ancient history now.
Enter Will Staal, who was brought in this summer to take Adderley’s place. This is believed to be the first time in South history that it has gone outside the Wabash Valley to hire a girls varsity basketball coach. Adderley, Stuckey, Dave Cassell and Maroska all had at least some background in Terre Haute before assuming their head-coaching duties.
Staal, 28 and single, has no prior connection. In no way was he a Hautean.
For the past two seasons, Staal served as boys varsity coach at Waldron High School, southeast of Indianapolis. His records were 3-19 in 2017-18 and 1-21 in 2018-19.
“I went to North Central in Indy [for high school] and we obviously competed against the Braves in the MIC [Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference],” Staal told the Tribune-Star. “So I see Terre Haute South as like a top-tier job in the state of Indiana.”
Since Staal’s high school days, South has switched from the MIC to Conference Indiana. Not surprisingly, one of Staal’s goals is for the Braves to win the CI championship in the near future.
“I’m a team-first kind of guy and I think my offense runs that way,” he explained. “The harder workers are obviously going to be the ones to score more often. But our first focus has to be on defense because if you can’t guard, you can’t win, especially at a high level. So that’s something I’m definitely going to try to instill at Terre Haute South.”
In addition to his coaching responsibilities, Staal will teach eighth-grade social studies at Honey Creek Middle School. In the meantime, he’s looking for a home in Terre Haute.
“I’m looking forward to going to some high school football games on Friday nights,” Staal mentioned.
Another significant recent change at South is the promotion of longtime track and cross country Ed Jarvis to athletic director. A first-time administrator, he replaced Brian Mancuso, who assumed the position in July 2011 and resigned in May 2019.
A 1996 South graduate, Jarvis first started working at the high school in 2002 as a half-day business teacher. He was added to the coaching staff as an assistant in 2003 and he’s gradually worked his way up the ranks since.
“We won four [girls track] sectionals in a row,” Jarvis reminisced. “No other [South] girls track team has ever done that.”
After learning that Mancuso planned to step down, Jarvis and his wife Chrissy wondered if he should throw his hat into the ring. After all, it wasn’t like there was a lack of AD candidates. Some of the other names mentioned included former ISU football coach Trent Miles and former ISU athletic director Ron Prettyman.
“I saw what Brian did a lot of the time [as athletic director],” Jarvis said. “and a lot of the other candidates coming from outside probably didn’t know all of the aspects that go into being a high school athletic director.”
Jarvis decided the change would be a “good situation and a challenge” for his whole family and he was able to secure the job.
“I like the way our athletics was going,” he continued. “And I wanted to make sure it kept going that same way.”
Looking ahead, Jarvis is already making plans for ways to celebrate South’s 50th anniversary in 2021.
“I want to make sure the alumni know there’s a place for them,” he emphasized. “We want them to come back. We want to try to get some of that spirit back, especially from some of our older teams from the 1970s and 1980s when we were so dominant in basketball.”
Addressing the unpleasant topic of declining enrollment, Jarvis wants to maintain a thriving athletic program as an appealing reason for on-the-go families to relocate into South’s district.
“I think that’s probably the biggest challenge [of the new job],” he admitted. “I have great coaches. I have a great support staff. I have a great administration. I’m walking into an amazing situation. Brian has put South on the map ... and I’m trying to fill his big shoes.”
Regarding Staal, Jarvis said he’s impressed with the new coach’s enthusiasm.
“It’s something the program is really going to benefit from,” he pointed out.
Jarvis also hopes to fill his own previous coaching positions in girls cross country and girls track soon.