By Pedro Velazco
Eastern girls basketball coach Jeremy Dexter has stepped down from the Comet program after accepting the AD job at Churubusco last week. Churubusco is in Whitley County about 15 minutes west of Fort Wayne.
Dexter led the Comets to a Class 2A state runner-up finish this past season.
“It’s something that I’ve had interest in wanting to do,” Dexter said of his new job. “I love athletics and it seemed like something I’d love to pursue. It was something that I wasn’t going to leave Eastern for a basketball job. I told our players that. But from a financial standpoint and what I would like to do career-wise dealing with administration, dealing with athletics ... for that reason it seemed like a good fit.”
Dexter took the Eastern job in 2008 straight out of graduating Purdue. He admitted it was a risk for Eastern superintendent Tracy Caddell and athletic director Brad Wilson, and he’s grateful for the chance.
“Dr. Caddell and Brad Wilson took a chance on me. I’ll never forget Brad telling me he took a chance not knowing,” Dexter said. “I really appreciate them doing that for me. I want to thank them for the opportunity they gave me.”
That opportunity paid off big for both sides. Dexter coached five seasons, amassing a 75-35 record. Eastern finished the 2012-13 season 22-4 after falling to Evansville Mater Dei in the 2A final.
“We hired him right out of college. It’s one of those things you take a chance on and you really don’t know what you’re going to get,” Eastern AD Wilson said. “But his worth ethic is impeccable. He came in and rebuilt the program and took care of the program. He’s going to be missed. He’s disappointed a lot of young ladies by moving on, but things happen in your life and you have to take the opportunities that arise.
“I wish him nothing but the best. He did a great job taking a team to the state finals for the first time in Eastern’s history. He’s going to be hard to replace.”
Dexter has worked with Wilson some in the athletic department, taking care of things like coordinating the gym schedule for all 11 Eastern basketball squads. It provided him with an idea of what he’ll have to do in Churubusco. He expects to get going with the Eagles in July.
Leaving the girls basketball program is bittersweet. Dexter thanked local coaches — Taylor’s Denis Bentzler, Kokomo’s Jason Snyder, former Northwestern coach Todd Miller, Tri-Central’s Kyle Stage, Tipton’s Nick Comer and Western’s Chris Keisling — for working with him as a young coach, thanked his fellow Eastern coaches, and thanked local media for how much attention is given to girls sports. Most of all, he was grateful to the kids who played for him.
“We’ve put them through a lot physically. The ones that graduated for me and the ones that are playing now really bought into what we’re doing,” Dexter said, noting the very first group of seniors paved the way. “They’re the reason the program is in a good position moving forward. They need to know that I appreciate them buying into what we wanted to try to accomplish. It’s very hard to leave. If my wife and I can help them in any way, we’re a phone call away.”