John Hadder heading to Spain Park as next girls basketball coach

Published 8:59 pm Wednesday, May 10, 2023

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

HOOVER – Two weeks after announcing his retirement, former Vincent basketball coach and athletic director John Hadder has taken on a new head coaching role in Shelby County.

After 14 years leading the Yellow Jackets to nearly 300 wins, Hadder was introduced as the next Spain Park girls basketball coach on Wednesday, May 10.

Though it was not something he knew was coming when he made his decision to retire from Vincent after 27 years in education, Hadder knew he wanted to stay involved in coaching, it just had to be the right situation.

“When I decided to retire from education, I knew I still wanted to coach, I just had to find the right situation,” he said.  “My wife is the principal at Berry, my daughter is a volleyball player here. I’m right here for everything that she does. It just seemed like a natural fit for our family. I feel like, even though I haven’t been here, I indirectly have been here because my family has been here. So, from that standpoint, I don’t feel completely on the outside.”

Hadder will take over for long-time coach Mike Chase, who has been one of the state’s best coaches over the past 20 years. Chase led the Jaguars to two state championships, three trips to the Final Four and five trips to the Elite Eight.

Hadder, however, has had his own success, leading Vincent to 295 wins, 14 straight sub-regional appearances, 12 area championships and 11 trips to the Sweet 16.

“We know what it can be. We’re not going to focus on where it is right now, we’re going to focus on what it can be,” Hadder said of his expectations. “It’s been that before, we’re going to try to make it that way again.”

He echoed that sentiment when talking about the success that the boys have seen the last few years, saying that he has known head coach Chris Laatsch for a long time and they’ll hope to build similar success.

Hadder did admit there may be some shifts into coaching girls basketball as a long-time boys coach, but he ultimately feels confident in what he and his staff can do, while also relying on the connections he’s built over the years.

In a lot of ways, coaching basketball is coaching basketball, but I know there are some differences,” he said. “That will be a growing curve for me. There will probably be some things that I don’t even know I don’t know yet that I’m going to find out over the course of the summer, but I’m going to try to reach out to as many people as I know and try to help that learning curve for me so I’m not going to have to be learning those lessons when I don’t want to be learning them.”

Ultimately, he said his main goal is to help develop his players, with all of his attention now on coaching basketball.

“I want them to understand that I want to be a servant leader for them,” Hadder said. “I want the focus to be completely on their development. Anything I can do to help them develop, that’s what I want to do. When I was at Vincent, I was committed to what I was doing, but there was also a lot of other things I was doing. When this is the only thing I’m doing, you can be really dedicated to it. That’s going to be a big change from what I can really pour into it. Not that I didn’t at Vincent, but I was having to pour my all into so many things. Here, this is my only job, so every day, I’m just dedicated to their development.”

He added that it may be a process, but he hopes to see progress in year one and continued growth after to eventually build the same expectation the program has had in the past and the same expectation his players at Vincent became accustom to.

Shortly after he was introduced to the team on Wednesday afternoon, Hadder got his first look at the team, getting right to work with a few drills with tryouts underway.