Conrad tapped to coach Lady Panthers
George Browning, Sports Writer, [email protected]
The old saying “There’s no place like home” is what Josh Conrad was feeling when he decided to return to Corydon Central to teach science and join the girls’ basketball coaching staff. Timing, as it turned out, is everything. Because of the retirement of former coach Michael Uhl, Conrad was recently named head coach at his alma mater.
Conrad grew up in Corydon but spent 14 years at Henryville, nine of those as head coach of the Lady Hornets basketball program. He said he is looking forward to the opportunity at Corydon Central.
“The most exciting part for me is taking over a program where the tradition is so strong,” Conrad said. “Coach Uhl has a lot to do with that being at the helm for 22 years. Plus, it’s exciting because of all the kids we will return next year, too.”
The Lady Panthers will lose only four seniors and return a host of underclassmen from a team that finished 13-11. One of those underclassmen is 5-foot-10 freshman Ava Weber, who led the Lady Panthers in scoring.
“We have to keep building and developing what we started this year by competing against some bigger schools,” Conrad said. “It’s tough when you have to play teams like Salem, North Harrison, Silver Creek and Madison in our sectional, and then the Mid-Southern Conference is tough, too. We have to grow as a group. I think we took some big steps this year, and we have to continue to grow in the future. Salem played in the state championship game, and Silver Creek had a lead on them with two minutes to go. We don’t want to shy away from teams like that; we want to look them in the eyes and go compete.”
The Mid-Southern Conference is so good that even with a winning record none of the Lady Panthers received any post-season recognition.
“We were a little shocked by the conference voting, but then you look at stats and the players who made it and, if they wanted to, there could have been 25 players on it,” Conrad said. “We do think we should have had at least one on there. I hope that will be motivation for next year, but I also think these kids have some bigger goals they want to focus on and work towards.”
Prior to his nine years coaching the Henryville girls’ program, Conrad spent five seasons coaching the boys’ junior varsity team there. He compiled a record of 119-93. He said he didn’t find out Uhl was planning to retire until the last couple of weeks of this past season.
Even with all that experience he had at Henryville, Conrad said it was great to be able to glean from someone with the success Uhl has had during his career.
“It’s great to sit back and watch someone else,” Conrad said. “I got to see how he planned out practices and how he worked his stations in for individual workouts. I also got to see how organized his practices were. It was also great to see how he did a scouting report and even stuff outside of basketball for the kids. His organization and the time he put into it are really two things I take away from the experience of working with him.”
Uhl said Conrad will only be the sixth coach in the program’s history, and he is confident the rich tradition will continue.
“There have only been five previous head coaches in the program history, with Josh being the sixth,” Uhl said. “He has a wealth of knowledge for the sport, but, more importantly, he knows how to develop student-athletes both as athletes and a people. He will be an outstanding representative of our school and community.”
It’s quite a while before the next season, but Conrad is ready to get started. He is already working the junior league programs and has a busy summer planned for the Lady Panthers. Until basketball season starts, he plans to watch the girls’ basketball players who compete in spring sports, if there is a spring sports season this year. (With the coronavirus pandemic, the season is currently up in the air.)
“If the season started next week, I’d be glad,” he said, “but I have always been a coach who likes to see kids play other sports. So, I am excited to watch our athletes go compete in other sports. That’s a part of coaching I love, watching the kids do other things, which is good for the school and good for the community.”
Conrad said his wife, the former Julie Hoehn, also grew up in Corydon (both played basketball at Corydon Central), and the couple has three children: Jack, 4, Sam, 2, and Henry, 2 months.
Coaching and having such a young family can be tough to juggle, but Conrad said he gets it done because of Julie.
“She handles a lot of the load,” he said. “At the same time, she is very helpful and supportive and I couldn’t ask for anything better. Plus, the boys like coming to the gym with me, so that helps out.”