Three to receive special awards at 2018 IBCA Clinic

Buggs, Dennis and Bowling to honored for contributions to basketball on April 20


Three men will receive special presentations during the 2018 Indiana Basketball Coaches Association annual clinic later this month.
Gary West boys’ head coach Chris Buggs and Switzerland County boys’ head coach Adam Dennis each will be recognized with a Point Guard College Transformational Coach award as presented by the IBCA. In addition, Union County boys’ assistant coach Roger Bowling will receive the first IBCA Assistant Coach of the Year award.

This is the second year for the PGC Transformation Coach awards, which are presented to coaches who have impacted the lives of their players and fellow coaches at their school and within their community. The recipients are coaches who are respected by their players and fellow coaches for their dedication, their positive approach, and their integrity on and off the court.

This is the first year that the IBCA is recognizing an assistant coach with an award. The award is to go to a coach who has contributed in a significant way to his or her school’s program for a number of years.
Buggs, Dennis and Bowling will be honored at the 2018 IBCA Clinic on April 20 at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis. The full clinic runs April 20-21 with headline speakers being Indiana University men’s coach Archie Miller, Marian University women’s coach Katie Gearlds, Southern Illinois men’s coach Barry Hinson and Emmanuel (Ga.) College men’s coach T.J. Rosene. Clinic fees are $50 for IBCA members and $100 for non-IBCA members.

More information on the three coaches to be honored follows.

Transformational Coach: Chris Buggs, Gary West

Chris Buggs, a member of Gary West’s 2002 Class 4A state championship team, recently completed his third season as boys basketball head coach at his alma mater, where he has guided the Cougars to a 23-47 record, including a 13-10 mark in 2017-18. He is a social studies teacher at the school and was nominated for the Transformational Coach award by Gary West athletic director Terrance Little.

“I have been able to watch Mr. Buggs have an amazing impact on the young men in his basketball program,” Little wrote in his nomination. “When we hired him three years ago, I heard he could have a positive impact on our student-athletes, but his influence on them surpassed my expectations.

“Before he became our coach, our basketball players frequently wer getting into altercations at the school and our college placement rate of our seniors was low. In his first year, he kept eight seniors who were all accepted to a college. One of the seniors went on to play college basketball at a prestigious private school.

“To reach that goal, Mr. Buggs took many steps. One of his steps was to create a mandatory daily study hall for his players. He reached out to other teachers to give his athletes assistance with the college entrance exams. He also created a program that encouraged all of his student-athletes to attend summer school. Under Mr. Buggs’ leadership, the players did multiple college visits which were of great distances from their homes. Many of students have never been as far away from home, and surely not had a chance to take a tour of a college campus.”

Little further noted that Buggs not only took the time to create mentoring sessions with his team, but he required his players to participate in community service projects. Those projects ranged from giving food out to the community on Thanksgiving, giving clothes and shoes to those in need, and serving breakfast to the hungry.

“Every year he completes at least three community service projects with his team,” Little wrote. “Those projects directly help the community, and they also help build character within our student-athletes. The basketball team also helps saves the school money by volunteering to work games from the other sports.”

Little noted that Buggs approach has helped the Gary West program grow leaps and bounds. He and his staff has worked tirelessly to develop the character and skills of their players. Buggs’ positive approach with his players has encouraged many of them to improve scholastically, serve as positive role models to other students in the school, and give them the confidence that they can go to college.

Buggs and his efforts were featured on Feb. 27 in The Times of Northwest Indiana.

“When will inner-city coaches understand this most-important concept?” writer Steve Hanlon asked rhetorically in the article. “Only the very few will make it to the NBA. But everyone can go to college. It’s great that Buggs understands the game of life.”

Transformational Coach: Adam Dennis, Switzerland County

Adam Dennis has compiled 40-56 record in four seasons as boys’ basketball head coach at Switzerland County, including an 8-17 ledger in the recently completed campaign. He was nominated for the Transformational Coach award by Mark Boggs, a former assistant coach for the Pacers.

“I can say without hesitation that Adam Dennis has had a major impact on his players,” Boggs wrote. “He stresses day in and day out the importance of being ‘servant leaders’ in our school and community. I truly admire the impact and passion he puts forth to make the individuals he teaches and coaches better people first and better players second.”

Academically, Dennis requires his players to have a passing grade in all courses in order to participate in basketball. He routinely checks his players’ report cards to make sure they are eligible by his standard.

“Early on, Coach Dennis had some students did not take their academics seriously, “Boggs added. “The athletes found out quickly that this was an expectation and not an option. Since then, students have learned to value their work in the classroom while understanding its importance.”

Dennis – now in his 12th year as a teacher and coach at Switzerland County – has classroom activities called “Champions Academy” and “Iron Sharpens Iron.” These lessons stress the importance of being a servant leader and how to embrace and perform like a champion. He continually stresses the importance of being humble with success and resilient when you fail.

“Mr. Dennis has made a huge impact on the lives of the people with whom he has worked,” Boggs continued. “Past and current athletes look at him as a role model due to the way he conducts himself both on and off the court. He has truly impacted me as a former assistant coach of his. He embraces all his athletes and treats them all as first-class citizens.”

In addition to teaching and coaching, Dennis is a member of Olive Branch Baptist Church, where he is active with various service projects. The church just completed a worship building and he, along with his players, spent several hours working on this building to get it ready.

Dennis also conducts basketball camps for young children throughout the year. In these camps, he strongly teaches the fundamentals of basketball as well as the importance of maintaining high character and being a “student-athlete.” His message to these campers demonstrates his knowledge, passion and commitment to Switzerland County athletics and the Vevay community.

“Mr. Dennis always is willing to lend a helping hand whenever it is needed,” Boggs wrote. “He is loyal to friends, family and strangers. He is a caring and trustworthy individual who always puts other people first.”

Dennis is a 2001 graduate of Switzerland County. He then attended Manchester University, graduating in May 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in math education. As a teacher, he was recognized with the 9th District American Legion Educator of the Year in 2017. He was an assistant coach for eight seasons before being named the Pacers’ head coach.

Dennis and his wife, Meganmarie, have two children – Maevry, 3, and Larkin, 1.

IBCA Assistant Coach of the Year: Roger Bowling, Union County

Roger Bowling of Union County High School in Liberty, Ind., is winner of the first IBCA Assistant Coach of the Year award. Bowling has served as a boys’ basketball assistant for the Patriots for 24 years. He was nominated for this award by Union County head coach Jesse Moses.

“Coach Roger Bowling is the man I want to be when I grow up,” Moses wrote in his nomination. “He is supportive, instructive, full of life and full of gratitude. The amount of joy he brings to our players on daily basis and the amount of love he gives to our teams is unrivaled. As a person, he brings a joy to the gym.

“There are people we come across in life that by their presence make us better. Roger is one of these individuals. Former players reach out to him frequently, and he is always willing to lend a hand. He often sends messages of support and our players know that he truly loves them. We are a family here at Union County. Coach Bowling is our dad, our crazy uncle and supportive grandpa all in one.”

Bowling – a 1978 Union County graduate who has been a volunteer coach at his alma mater for 22 of his 24 seasons on the bench – assists the program in ways beyond Xs and Os. He annually coordinates the Union County “Coaches vs. Cancer” game, volunteers for multiple school functions and fundraisers, and helps young men become successful adults.

“Coach Bowling unfortunately dealt with a bout of cancer a few years back (in 2011-12),” Moses noted. “Even that could not slow him down. His strength through his toughest times served and still serves as an example for all of us. Our school is lucky to have Coach Bowling. His passion and perseverance has enriched the UC basketball program and the entire community around him.”

Former Union County head coach Mark Detweiler, now head coach at Delta, said Bowling is a key contributor to the Patriots’ program. Bowling has assisted UC coaches Greg Hall, Todd Howard, Barry Kennedy, Detweiler and Moses.

“In my time there, Roger would come into practice every day (some days without going to bed) and assisted on the bench every game,” Detweiler wrote, noting Bowling’s third-shift full-time job. “He continues to serve in this capacity. There are very few assistant coaches in the state of Indiana that have served in a volunteer capacity for (nearly) 25 years. He truly loves his school and community, and cares deeply about the players in the program.

“Without his dedication, the Union County program would not have won three sectional titles in the past seven seasons. … He represents what we all hope to be in terms of giving to area youth, without asking for anything in return.”

More testimony for Bowling’s role came from Mike Murray.

“Roger Bowling has affected the lives of many athletes by always encouraging them to be the best person they can be first and then be the best player that they can be secondly,” Murray wrote. “Roger takes it upon himself to take many pictures during the season. He then compiles a video and presents this to the seniors after they have completed their high school basketball career. This has been very meaningful to many of the student athletes.”

After Bowling graduated from Union County, he moved to Oklahoma for several years. He then returned to Liberty, where he worked for 12 years as a police officer. He now works as a manufacturing supervisor at Hill-Rom in Batesville. He also currently serves on the Town Council of Liberty.

Bowling and his wife, Amy, have an adult daughter – Kate.