Change can be difficult, but it doesn't have to be disruptive.
I've had a front row seat to a number of coaching changes in Northwest Arkansas, including in 2002 when former Arkansas second baseman Dave Van Horn was named to replace Norm DeBriyn, who retired after 33 years as head coach of the Razorbacks. DeBriyn had built Arkansas baseball from practically nothing and handed off to Van Horn, who's elevated the Razorbacks to one of the top programs in the country.
I remember, too, standing in the mud at Cabot in 2000 and talking with Springdale football coach Jarrell Williams after the Bulldogs were eliminated in the state playoffs by the Panthers. It was the final game for Williams, who retired after 36 years and 261 victories, including four state championships with the Bulldogs.
He was replaced by Gus Malzahn, who spent five years at Springdale and began a college coaching career after guiding the Bulldogs to a 14-0 record and a state championship in 2005.
Last week, I got to witness what will be another smooth transition at Fayetteville when Brad Stamps was introduced to replace Kyle Adams, who is retiring after 37 years as a basketball coach, including the past nine years with the Purple Bulldogs. Stamps, who left a head coaching job at Springdale to spend four years on Adams' staff, speaks passionately when talking about his long relationship with Adams, who he calls his mentor and life coach.
Stamps credits Adams with providing him with plenty of direction on and off the court.
"Obviously, the teaching of basketball, but it goes further than that for me," Stamps said of Adams, who gave him his first coaching job as a volunteer assistant at Woodland Junior High in 1993. "He taught me to be a better father, a better husband and to be a better man. It wasn't just lip service; it was something he's lived out. It's easy to latch onto something like that when you see it with your own eyes."
Stamps, 48, was a hot commodity after Springdale made a surprise run and finished as the state runner-up in 2014. He considered accepting an administrator's job at Prairie Grove when he received a phone call that changed his life.
It was from Adams, who wanted to talk to Stamps about replacing assistant coach Tommy Deffebaugh, who was leaving to taking a position with the Arkansas women's basketball team.
"My life coach was calling, and I knew he was getting toward the end of his career," Stamps said. "I didn't know how close, but I knew and I asked tough questions. He gave me the opportunity to begin my coaching career, and I thought 'What better opportunity for me to put my ego aside and go and serve for the man who got me in the business?'"
Fayetteville had plenty of success with Stamps on staff to assist Adams, who guided the Bulldogs to a 21-6 record and a 6A-West Conference championship in his final season as head coach. No one -- outside of Stamps and his family -- is more pleased than the person Adams first coached as an eighth-grader at Woodland is replacing him as head coach of the Bulldogs.
"It's what I wanted," Adams said.
I've seen situations where players are resistant to a coaching change, especially when someone with dramatically new ideas or procedures takes over. But the returning players I talked with last week appear eager to begin a new chapter of Fayetteville basketball with a familiar face.
"The transition to coach Stamps is going to be as smooth as any could be," junior guard Connor Barnett said. "He's been one of my best coaches ever, and I can't wait to play under him. I think it's going to go great."
Adams, for sure, will be missed not only for his ability to win games but for the way he molded young men by the example he set. Class act, all the way.
But Fayetteville appears to be in good hands with Stamps, who will bring the same purple passion he felt as a player to his new job as head coach of the Bulldogs.
Sports on 04/14/2019
Print Headline: Smooth transition expected with Fayetteville boys basketball