Veteran Twidwell lands with A-P hoops

Veteran Twidwell lands with A-P hoops

ARMSTRONG — Mike Twidwell still had an itch to coach basketball at the high school level. The former Salt Fork boys' and girls' basketball head coach just wanted an opportunity.

"It's in your blood," Twidwell said. "You just don't know what to do if you're not doing it."

Twidwell will find himself caught up again in high school boys' basketball after he was hired at a recent school board meeting to become Armstrong-Potomac's next boys' basketball head coach.

Twidwell replaces Brian Russell, whose contract was not renewed by the school board in April and who has since landed the head coaching job at Villa Grove. Russell coached the Trojans for five seasons.

Twidwell's hire ends a four-month period of uncertainty about who would coach the Trojans this winter.

"I'm happy," A-P athletic director Darren Loschen said. "We kept wondering and wondering, but I'm happy that I don't have to worry about that anymore. Mike has the experience, and he's been at this level before. He was looking to get into high school basketball again, and it just happened to open up."

Twidwell inherits an A-P team that finished 12-17 last season and lost in a Class 1A regional semifinal to eventual sectional champion Fisher.

The Trojans will have many newcomers for the upcoming season. Seven of the top eight scorers last season were seniors, but guard Wade Rogers, the team's leading scorer, returns for his senior season. Rogers earned special mention Vermilion Valley Conference accolades after he averaged 10.2 points during his junior season.

"I've already talked with Wade, and that young man is pretty enthusiastic about basketball starting," Twidwell said. "That was a pretty senior-loaded team. From what I understand, Wade will be a go-to guy."

Sean O'Brien, Russell's assistant coach last season, will assist Twidwell this winter, which is beneficial to the program. O'Brien teaches at A-P, and Twidwell teaches physical education at South View Middle School in Danville. South View's classes do not end until 3:30 p.m., meaning Twidwell wouldn't make it to a Trojans practice until 4 p.m. most school days.

Twidwell has taught and served in an administrative role at South View since 1987. The 1977 Jamaica High School graduate went to Danville Area Community College before earning a bachelor's degree from Eastern Illinois University in 1985 and a master's degree in curriculum and instruction from the American College of Education. He will step aside as South View's athletic director Sept. 8, a position he has held since 2005, to concentrate on his new coaching duties at A-P.

"I just cannot do both successfully," Twidwell said. "It's just too much time, and I just miss coaching too much at the high school level."

Twidwell coached seventh- and eighth-grade boys' basketball at South View from 1987 to '98 before he started coaching at Salt Fork. He led the Storm's girls' program from 1998 to 2000, winning two Class 1A regional titles, and again from 2003 to '05 with a three-year stop from 2000 to '03 as the Storm's boys' basketball head coach in between.

The chance to get involved again in Vermilion County basketball was too much of an opportunity for Twidwell to pass up.

He is one of a handful of new head coaches the VVC will have next season, with John Spezia taking over at Milford, Gary Tidwell at Schlarman and Andrew Johnson at Salt Fork. Johnson played under Twidwell when he coached the Storm.

"It's county basketball," Twidwell said. "I just love it. The way they interact with each other, it's just really fun to see and be a part of. I'm a very competitive person, and I really enjoy that. I know some of the coaches, so it makes it fun to coach against them, too. I really missed the action from being at Salt Fork."