East Wilkes names new basketball coach

By Kristian Russell - krussell@elkintribune.com

RONDA — It has been a busy past few months for the East Wilkes Cardinals athletic teams, as new coaches have been announced for the upcoming 2018-2019 seasons.

The Cardinals have announced that Wes Rousseau was named as the new men’s basketball coach. Rousseau is no stranger to East Wilkes, as his wife, April, is a history teacher at the high school.

“I’ve lived in Wilkes County for about a decade and my wife teaches here, so I have been around the community,” said Rousseau. “I’ve had a great working relationship with Justin Call since high school. The small-town feel and the support that they have for their athletic programs is a big draw for me and understandably knowing the type and quality of kids I was going to get to work with.”

Rousseau was the head boy’s and girl’s soccer coach while at Ashe County High School. He coached under Ashe County Athletic Director Marc Payne for seven years.

“I learned how to build a program and learned how to hold a practice,” said Rousseau on his time under Payne. “I think I learned more from Coach Payne than anybody else, but my father (Larry Rousseau).”

Rousseau takes over a struggling East Wilkes basketball team, as the Cardinals won just one game last season. Rousseau hopes to improve on the team’s confidence and build lasting relationships with his new team.

“My goals are to improve and to see market improvement,” said Rousseau. “I want that to be demonstrable by what we do on the court. I’m going to be here for a while. There has not been a whole lot of stasis in the program in the past little bit, so I’m going to be here for a while.”

Rousseau is the fifth boy’s basketball coach for the East Wilkes Cardinals since 2014. He takes over after interim coach J.K. Adkins, who took over from Ethan Poulos in December. Adkins left East Wilkes to take a post as head football coach at Mount Airy High School for fall of 2018.

“I know the background that he has had,” said East Wilkes Athletic Director Justin Call. “From the athletic director’s perspective, I’ve witnessed him coaching and taking the role as an assistant in basketball. I’ve seen what he has done as a head coach with soccer, and what he’s done with the programs at Ashe. I’ve looked on that with a lot of admiration.

“He has done a great job with the kids and building relationships. He has loyalty and it shows in that hard work that he has put into it. All of those are attributes that I think are going to transpire here,” said Call. “I know with his programs at Ashe, and how loyal he was to the county, I think we are getting the same thing here. That is what we have needed, that person who is going to come in, be here and work hard. Someone who is going to be here for our kids every day, and that is what really intrigued me about Coach Rousseau. In the interviewing process, that really came through and we are just excited to get started.”

Rousseau will get started with the team as soon as possible, as he wants to cultivate the new relationships. While at East Wilkes, Rousseau will also be an English teacher.

“I want to build something here,” said Rousseau. “I want to build something where East Wilkes is the same sort of contender that they were when Coach Call played. I want there to be teams who come here to play, and they don’t want to come into Ronda to play.”

By Kristian Russell