Haltiwanger Leaves Legacy of Success at RWA

Assistant, Former Player Takes Reins

Jason Haltiwanger cuts down the net after the Lady Eagles’ third state title win in 2015.

Jason Haltiwanger cuts down the net after the Lady Eagles’ third state title win in 2015.

WINNSBORO (July 28, 2016) – Jason Haltiwanger, the man who led the Richard Winn varsity girls’ basketball squad to five consecutive state title game appearances and four championships, has departed for the head coaching position at Oakbrook Prep.

Haltiwanger’s career at Richard Winn spanned a decade and was highlighted by absolute dominance. Between the 2010-2011 season, and the 2015-2016 season, Haltiwanger’s teams only lost six games, something many teams accomplish by mid-season.

Haltiwanger’s first two seasons were his only two losing seasons, and under his helm the Lady Eagles’ ran rough-shot over SCISA’s 1A Region III. His teams won seven league titles in a row from 2009 to 2016, and over that span the Eagles were 54-3 in region play.

Haltiwanger, who announced he was leaving in May, released the following statement via the Richard Winn blog, The Eagle Eye.

“I am very grateful to Richard Winn for the many memories and friendships that were made during my time at RWA. It is with a heavy heart that my family will be leaving this great place I have called home for the past 10 years, but we are excited for what God is calling us to do next. To my players, remember to always sprint the race that God has called you to run, not for a crown that will perish, but a crown that will last forever. I would like to thank God for the opportunity to work at Richard Winn Academy, allowing me to do what I am most passionate about, which is teaching and coaching.”

Haltiwanger, no stranger to building a dynasty, will have his work cut out for him when he takes the reigns at Oakbrook Prep. The Knights were ranked No. 205 in the state last season and ended up four games below .500 with a 4-4 region record.

In addition, the Knights compete in the rigorous SCISA 2A Region I, meaning that Haltiwanger’s new team will routinely face Spartanburg Christian Academy and Spartanburg Day, two immensely talented teams. Spartanburg Christian is the reigning SCISA 2A champion, and Spartanburg Day finished last season with a respectable 19-5 record.

Richard Winn Athletic Director Joe Pitt did not have to look far for a replacement. Assistant coach Jessie Stidham was named as Haltiwanger’s replacement.

Stidham played under Haltiwanger for a number of years, and spent a season on the bench as his assistant.

“I was in the sixth grade and coach Halt approached me about playing basketball,” Stidham said. “I had my heart set on volleyball, to be honest, but coach Halt talked me into it and after I got into the program and got the feel of things, he really taught me a lot more than just basketball.”

As for the pressure of replacing a championship caliber coach, Stidham is confident her years learning from Haltiwanger will make the transition an easier one.

“It was very difficult when coach Halt broke the news to us, but I was fortunate enough to be able to assist him this past year, so I think from a coaching standpoint he really helped me out a lot,” she said.

Richard Winn fans can expect to see a very similar playing style to the one Haltiwanger established during his time as the head ball coach.

“I’m going to keep it mostly the same,” she said. “That’s all I’ve really known, playing for him for seven years, and that’s all that my girls know, so we’re going to keep that the same, because it works, obviously.”

The Eagles will have a talented roster to work with, but Stidham emphasized that she wanted the girls to play hard and not put pressure on themselves to claim the school’s fifth consecutive title.

“My goals for this season are to just play hard every game, not worry about a scoreboard and for these girls to just go out here and glorify God,” she said. “I don’t want them to be focused just on winning another state championship, I just want them to focus everyday on how they can better themselves.”

 

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