When the Pacific Indians next take to the hardwood, they’ll have their first new head coach in nearly three decades.
Cody Bradfisch takes over the program after a 27-year run by John VanLeer ended this past winter with VanLeer’s retirement.
Bradfisch is eager for the opportunity to build on the program’s success, which included 400 wins, seven Four Rivers Conference championships and a 2018 district title under VanLeer.
“I think it’s a great opportunity with what Coach VanLeer has done laying the foundation there for the past 27 years,” Bradfisch said. “That’s not a position a lot of people find themselves in, especially for their first head coaching job.”
Bradfisch has served as an assistant coach at Warrensburg for the past five seasons. He was also previously an assistant women’s basketball coach at Thomas University in Thomasville, Ga.
As a player, Bradfisch played at Jerseyville High School in Grafton, Ill., and Webster University.
“I’m just excited for this opportunity,” Bradfisch said. “The last five years where I’ve been at Warrensburg, we’ve done a really good job of establishing relationships and guys want to come back. Pacific already has that atmosphere, so I’m excited to build on that. I think it says a lot that Coach (Hart) Hillhouse and Coach (Justin) King both played here and wanted to come back. It’s going to be a nice challenge for us.”
While not playing or coaching in the Four Rivers Conference before, Bradfisch has familiarity with some of its teams while at Warrensburg, having met Pacific at the Rolla Holiday Tournament in 2016-17 and Sullivan in the 2019 Class 4 sectional round.
“I’ve come to understand that it’s a really good conference,” Bradfisch said. “There are some pretty good teams in that area and a lot of really good players have come through there.”
With schools across the state being closed for the remainder of the academic year, Bradfisch has only been able to have limited contact with his new team. It remains to be determined exactly how much opportunity they will have for team activities this summer.
“It’s definitely a unique situation,” he said. “We got the guys together last week, the returning players, and had a conversation on Zoom and I was able to introduce myself.”
The Indians will graduate two seniors from this season and return four starters.
“I think we’ve got some really good pieces coming back and some really good young guys,” Bradfisch said. “We’ve got a lot here that we can work with.”
Pacific is coming off an 11-15 season highlighted by a home win over Washington that was the Blue Jays’ first loss of the season and a pair of fourth-place tournament finishes at St. Francis Borgia Regional’s annual Turkey Tournament and the Kansas Army National Guard Invitational.