By GREG MENGELT
Whether as a player or a coach, Charlestown graduate Chad Gilbert has had success everywhere he’s gone.
Now the national championship player and state championship coach is headed back home to try to help his alma mater become the best it can be.
“I’m really excited to be back home and be part of something special,” Gilbert said. “I want to help make Charlestown the best 3A program in Indiana.
“It’s an opportunity at a dream job. With all of the development [at Charlestown High School] and the community support, I believe that we can continue to take the athletic program to new heights.”
As a Pirate from 1989 to 1991, Gilbert’s teams won four Sliver Creek Holiday Tournament championships, a Mid-Southern Conference titles and two Floyd Central Sectional championships. He scored 1,392 career points, averaged 27.1 points and 8.8 rebounds as a senior and was named All-State.
“I grew up in Charlestown and I loved the time I was there,” he said. “It’s home to me. I think I’ve made a difference in coaching — with the programs and the kids — and this is a chance to make a difference [with the Charlestown athletic department].”
That doesn’t mean that leaving Jeffersonville wasn’t a difficult decision. Gilbert had been on the Jeff High sidelines since 2000 and spent the three years before that coaching at River Valley and Parkview Middle Schools in Jeffersonville.
The 2013-14 Red Devils were expected to have another great season with Gilbert leading the way.
“Retiring from coaching was not an easy decision by any means,” he said. “Jeffersonville embraced me 13 years ago and that’s something I’ll always appreciate and remember.”
After leading the Jeffersonville girls’ basketball team to nine Hoosier Hills Conference titles, six sectional crowns and the state championship in 2011, Gilbert moved over to coach the Red Devil boys.
In two seasons leading the Jeff boys, Gilbert won two sectional titles and a regional crown in 2013. Although All-State guard Darryl Baker has moved on to Lamar University, Gilbert believes the Jeff opening could be a perfect job for the right coach.
“There’s no question,” he said. “We’re leaving a program in great shape. Whoever gets that position won’t be in a rebuilding process. We’re coming off a 20-win season and a sectional championship and there are a lot of great kids coming back. The program is in very good position.
“The tradition of the program will attract the very best candidates.”