LAPEL — The latest stop for Tod Windlan will be an emotional homecoming as the much-traveled Madison County native was officially approved as the next coach of the Lapel boys basketball team.
He also hopes the days of long drives to work are behind him.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to get back to Madison County,” Windlan said. “It’s basically where I started my coaching career, and I’m wanting to end it here.”
This will be the 18th season of coaching high school basketball for the Frankton graduate, the first 16 coaching girls. He coached the Eagles from 2003-07 before moving on to Highland for two seasons. After a season at Delta, he coached two years at Hamilton Heights, one year at Warren Central, four years at Carmel and single-season stops at Greencastle and Kokomo. He coached boys for the first time in 2020-21 at Sheridan, leading the Blackhawks to a 12-11 record, their first winning season in nine years.
He has an overall career record of 250-153 and won a total of five sectional titles, including three at Carmel and in both seasons with the Huskies — one of which resulted in a trip to the state finals in 2013. He said the recent move to coaching the boys game was spurred on by his controversial departure from Carmel.
“After the Carmel situation, I definitely wanted to head to the boys side,” Windlan said. “There’s no doubt that that’s the road I wanted to go to get into boys (basketball). Basketball is basketball at the end of the day.”
The deaths of former Anderson police chief Larry Crenshaw and Elwood girls basketball coach Craig Brunnemer — two people close to Windlan — about a month apart in the fall fed his desire to work closer to his home in Anderson where he is also the golf pro at Grandview.
“(I) had some tough circumstances in the fall with my brother-in-law Larry Crenshaw passing away and losing longtime close friend and assistant coach Craig Brunnemer just 35 days apart,” Windlan said. “It kind of put some perspective on how life is truly very, very short. I’ve been helping my sister quite a bit around her house. Everything just kind of came together at the right time, and I’m just fortunate that (Lapel) selected me.”
Windlan takes over a program that had a tumultuous 2020-21 season, which included the sudden resignation of Hall of Fame coach Jimmie Howell after four games. Assistant coach Justin Coomer coached the remainder of the year on an interim basis as the Bulldogs finished 8-16. Windlan is excited for the talent returning as well as the fact Coomer has agreed to stay on as an assistant.
“Coach Coomer did a good job last year in a very difficult situation,” Windlan said. “He’s been a big help, and there’s a lot of talent in the gym. Not only in the returning kids, but there are some incoming freshmen that have looked really good. There are some sophomores who have looked pretty good, some juniors and of course the kids who played last year who will be seniors this year. I told them that there’s enough talent in the room to win right away.”
Windlan said his top priority will be instilling toughness in the team and to develop that toughness and his philosophies in the Lapel basketball feeder programs.