Aaron Windler spent a year studying about.
It’s not exactly studying abroad, but it is essentially what the new Mountain Pointe boys basketball coach, pending Tempe Union High School District's approval on April 18, did this past season.
After deciding to step away from his post as the Chaparral coach in November because trouble started brewing within the Firebirds basketball community, Windler got a chance to sample bits and pieces throughout Arizona.
He’d spend some time at one high school practice, shoot on over to Grand Canyon University and follow it up with some time at Wells Fargo Arena checking out Arizona State coach Herb Sendek’s session.
At first it probably was a little unhealthy – trying to fill the void left by not having a practice of his own to run – but in the long run it accelerated his drive to coach again.
“It was a difficult first couple of months. I spent a tremendous a lot time viewing the game from every angle,” he said. “I couldn’t tell you how many of Coach Sendek’s practices I’ve been to. They probably wished I found something else to do.”
And he has.
Windler, 37, was officially named the Pride coach Monday after interviewing Thursday and accepting Friday. He was one of eight to interview after it was whittled down from an overwhelming amount of applicants.
Success, clarity and confidence separated him from Mountain Pointe junior varsity coach Hosea Graham, Goodyear Desert Edge coach Joe Babinski , Fountain Hills coach Matt Johnson and others.
“It was how he was able to express his confidence and his ability to articulate his coaching philosophy,” Mountain Pointe coach Ian Moses said. “He was successful at two schools that on paper are quite different in diversity, size and population.”
Windler, who was an assistant at Glendale Community College for four years, is 85-60 overall at Coronado (25-32) and Chaparral (60-28) and has been able to take every team he has coached to the postseason. He lost in the first round both years with Coronado before taking Chaparral to the Class 4A Division I Final Four and two Class 5A Division II state runner-up finishes.
He inherits a program from Brian Fleming that has shown the ability to compete at a high level as the Pride won 22 and 23 games in 2009-10 and 2010-11 before finishing 15-13 this past year with a young roster.
Windler, who received a letter of recommendation from Sendek, is excited about the chance to take over program that should be ready to compete at very high level next season.
Junior guard Khari Holloway (18.2 points, 4.8 assists, 3.9 rebounds), sophomore guard Austin Witherill (11.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists) and sophomore top-defender Jalen Brown (7.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.2 steals) will be the focus of the team while post Kenny Lacy, a 6-foot-5 highly-recruited football player, would provide a big body in the key should he fully commit to the basketball program.
“I am not one of those guys that runs my system regardless of what the roster looks like,” he said. “I adjust the system based on the talent we have and this will be the most athletic team I have ever coached.
“We are going to have a full-court, pressing team. We will play some man and zone while getting out and run a little although under control. You could call it controlled chaos.”
Windler, who is a social studies teacher, will meet with the players and parents this week as the offseason program starts to heat up heading into summer ball.
It gives them some time to get a feel for each other since Windler, who is married to Michele and has a 2-year-old son, Eli, can’t wait to get started.
“It is a situation where I feel like I am going to have an unlimited amount of support from the administration,” he said. “I missed practice. Games are great, but I love going to practice and teaching the game.”