Lakeland has tabbed Scott LaPlace to take over its boys basketball program starting this fall.
LaPlace’s appointment to the position was unanimously (6-0) approved by the Lakeland School Board at its meeting Monday night.
“I am very excited to get the job and anxious to get started,” said LaPlace, a graduate of Bethel College and a 13-year assistant coach under both Homer Drew and Mike Lightfoot in the Pilots men’s hoops program. “Not too many places in this area have the winning tradition and expectation of success that Lakeland does. I hope to build on that success and develop players who can meet those high expectations. Lakeland should compete for the NECC championship and do well in the state tournament each year.”
LaPlace guided the Fremont hoops program from 2000-09, guiding the Eagles to a 100-93 record. In 2005 under LaPlace’s tutelage, Fremont won the 2A sectional at Garrett. It remains the only sectional crown the Eagles have won since 1973.
Upon leaving the bench four seasons ago, LaPlace continued to teach at Fremont, but his mind was never far from basketball. “I kept close tabs on the NECC, especially Fremont and coach (Ted) Bookwalter, who has done a great job. The (coaching) juices started to flow in me again and I decided to apply for the Lakeland job when it came open. I wanted to make an impact on young people’s lives. That’s what I’ve been put on Earth to do.”
Though Lakeland is coming off a 6-16 campaign, LaPlace is optimistic that the players are in place to turn the Laker program back into a winner. “There is a lot of pride in the community and we want to tap into that with the kids. Sometimes all it takes is a new face, a new energy to get things going in the right direction.
“I love the organizing and teaching that goes on in practice,” LaPlace added. “The games are for the players, a chance to use the skills they have worked on in practice. We won’t be a run-and-gun outfit, without any discipline. But I do want them to have fun.”
A total of 22 applicants inquired about the coaching post, which became vacant when Ryan Yoder resigned earlier this spring.
“We are excited to have Scott as our new boys basketball coach,” said Lakeland athletic director Tim Gonderman. Because of his coaching experience at both the high school and collegiate levels, he brings a wealth of knowledge to our program.”
LaPlace will teach physical education at Lakeland Middle School.