EPHRATA — Ephrata School District announced on April 26 the hiring of two new head coaches. This comes after a handful of resignations and the creation of a new position in the Ephrata High School athletics department.
In a release on April 26, the Ephrata School District announced the new head coaches for varsity girls and boys basketball this fall. Alain Black and Rick Walter will be the head coaches for the girls and boys teams respectively.
“We are very excited to have Alain and Rick join our coaching staff,” said Bryan Johnson, Ephrata High School Athletic Director in the release. “Their extensive experience, longevity in and around Ephrata Schools and their love of basketball make them the perfect fit for our teams. We’re pleased to welcome them into their new positions and excited to see them add to our Ephrata culture in a positive way.”
Black takes over for Dale Hagy who said he resigned because he wanted more time to spend with his family. Hagy spent four years as the head coach of the Tigers, coaching multiple first team all-conference players, including one who went on to play at the collegiate level.
Walter takes the position left by Brandon Evenson who also said he resigned to allow more time with his family. Evenson coached the boys’ team for 18 years and led the Tigers to become district champions in 2008, league champions in 2010 and 2015 and took home the Tigers’ second basketball state championship in 2008.
The release states that this year, the boys varsity team won Ephrata basketball’s first Academic State Championship and 23rd overall by the school.
“We are extremely grateful to Brandon and Dale for their years of hard work and dedication to our basketball programs,” Johnson said in the release. “They leave behind a strong legacy of high-class character that we will build upon. Though we’re excited about the future, we acknowledge all that’s been done by the previous head coaches to put students first and represent Ephrata High School in a positive manner. Brandon and Dale will be missed.”
Black, a 2001 EHS graduate, and part of the 2000 state championship team for the Tigers, has more than 19 years of coaching experience. Black was the assistant girls basketball coach at EHS for a decade before coaching 9-13-year-old players in AAU Basketball and serving as the AAU President. Most recently, Black was the assistant coach of the Ephrata Middle School eighth grade boys basketball team and has also been a volunteer varsity girls assistant coach at the high school for the last four years, the release states.
Black is currently the chair of the Ephrata School Board. To eliminate any conflict of interest between her position as chair and head coach, she not only recused herself from the hiring vote, but also plans to step down from the board following the July meeting, ahead of assuming her new role, the release states.
“I love the game of basketball, from strategy, to developing fundamentals and working with kids,” said Black in the release. “I plan to focus on developing our program in Ephrata, building excitement for the sport in kids of all ages. Basketball has its own culture and my goal is to create passion for the game and an expectation of success.”
Walter, taking over the boys team, has been with the Ephrata School District for the past seven years as a PE, Health and Weight Training teacher at the High School. He has more than 19 years experience in coaching at both the high school and collegiate levels. From 2015-2021, he served as the assistant basketball coach at Almira Coulee Hartline and helped lead their 1B boys basketball team to second place in the state championship, the release states. Previously he was the assistant basketball coach for Spokane Falls Community College.
“I’m excited to take on this new position and continue the success of Ephrata’s program,” said Walter in the release. “We’re going to build on our fundamentals and put together a team that people want to come watch and support. I feel fortunate in the role I’ll get to play in shaping our players and our team.”
Earlier this year, head football coach Jay Mills also resigned and head wrestling coach Patrick Mitchell assumed head football coach role. Due to taking the head football coach role, Mitchell resigned the head wrestling coach position.
The head boys wrestling coach position is still open as well as the new girls wrestling coach position that was created by the district at the beginning of April.
Rebecca Pettingill can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.