After 15 years at Opelika High School, basketball coach John Wadsworth is moving on.
Wadsworth officially resigned as Bulldogs head boys basketball coach on Tuesday to become an assistant coach at Enterprise. Wadsworth’s decision ends a run at Opelika during which he was the head coach for 12 seasons after serving as an assistant coach for two years prior to that.
“It’s been a good run. It’s just come a time where it’s somebody else’s turn. We’re going to make a change and go to Enterprise High School. I’m going to be the assistant down there for Rhett Harrelson, who’s the head coach. I’m looking forward to the change,” Wadsworth said. “It’s tough in the sense that you’re comfortable. I’ve been there 15 years and built some great relationships with some really, really good people that I worked with, and most importantly the kids. That’s the hard thing. You get attached to those kids, and it’s like they’re your own kids.
“That’s obviously tough, and it’s very different in the sense that I would always do something like this person-to-person and face-to-face, but being the pandemic that we’re in here it was a little different yesterday telling the kids. It was a tough decision, but we’re excited about what the future holds.”
Wadsworth was initially elevated to head coach in 2007 following the departure of Mike Pugh and led the team for four years, during which the team captured 75 victories. He resigned just prior to the 2011-2012 season due to family issues involving his mother’s health only to return to the post less than six months later.
From there, Wadsworth led the team for eight more seasons. Over that time, the Bulldogs made the state tournament six times, including a trip to the Class 6A subregional round in February.
“I think we accomplished a lot, just sitting back and reflecting on all of it. When you’re in the middle of it, you don’t really think about it,” Wadsworth said. “I have no idea on wins, losses and how many area championships and tournament championships and all that stuff, but it’s a credit to the kids we coached. A lot of the times we played, we were out-manned physically. The kids at Opelika just have a lot of fight in them, and we’re very appreciative of those kids that we coached over the years to lead us to some big wins.”
Wadsworth explained he’s gotten to know Enterprise head coach Rhett Harrelson after facing off with him in the playoffs three years in a row about 10 years ago. Those battles brought about a connection that allowed Wadsworth to develop a connection with Harrelson and Harrelson’s family, and it ultimately led to an opportunity Wadsworth couldn’t pass up.
Wadsworth expressed his excitement about joining the Enterprise staff and also expressed his appreciation for Opelika’s administrators. He explained he was upset about leaving the relationships he built in Opelika, but he plans to maintain them even after he leaves.
When asked about what advice he’d give his successor at Opelika, Wadsworth offered up three words.
“Expect the unexpected,” Wadsworth said.