Peter Hutchins named Western Reserve Academy head boys basketball coach

Thomas Adams-Wall to lead girls basketball team

Staff Writer
Kent Weeklies
Peter Hutchins

Peter Hutchins recently joined Western Reserve Academy as associate athletic director for programmatic strategy.

Hutchins also replaces Thomas Adams-Wall as head coach of the boys basketball team. Adams-Wall replaces Emily Thews-Baldridge, who is taking maternity leave, as the head coach of the girls basketball team.

Hutchins, a veteran of the boarding school sector and accomplished collegiate and prep school coach and player, will begin his tenure at Reserve in July, following years of success at George Mason University (Virginia), Dartmouth College (New Hampshire), Williams College (Massachusetts) and his high school alma mater, the New Hampton School (New Hampshire).

Hutchins’ coaching accolades include being named the 2015-16 AAA Coach of the Year by the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council. His player development has launched several NBA careers. As a college junior at Plymouth State (New Hampshire), Hutchins led his team to a school best record and the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.

"My responsibility is to make sure all kids have a really good experience with athletics," Hutchins said. "I want sports to be a big part of what students love about their time at Reserve. In my new role, I'm excited by the opportunity to help further define the culture of athletic programs at WRA and to be a steward of the school in a meaningful way."

WRA Head of School Suzanne Buck first met Hutchins during her tenure at New Hampton where Hutchins coached basketball and worked in the admission office, which she ran.

"Pete is enthusiastic, incredibly structured, hard working, tenacious and a strategic thinker who gets things done," Buck said. "He understands the specialness of boarding schools and maximizes what can be offered and achieved in this environment."

Director of Athletics and Afternoon Programs Herb Haller agreed.

"I am extremely excited to add Pete to our WRA community, athletic department, and specifically, our Boys Basketball program. Peter is an experienced and talented coach who will continue to elevate our program. I also look forward to working with him closely within the athletic department."

Hutchins credits his time coaching college basketball with improving his talents relative to opponent scouting and offensive and defensive philosophy, saying the experiences made him a better coach. He also relishes the opportunity to re-engage with students at the high school level, particularly at a boarding school.

"At the college level, you miss the relationships with the kids," Hutchins said. "Boarding is a unique environment that provides so many ways to connect with students. One of the most rewarding aspects of working in boarding schools is the mentorship of students and graduates and the cultivation of relationships with families of those students.

“As a community leader through athletics at WRA, I look forward to forming and nurturing these important relationships while also having a broader impact on the school's culture and health."

Hutchins has put many points on the board for student-athletes and players, with six of his players from New Hampton going on to play in the Ivy League and three others eventually selected in the NBA Draft. As he plans for his leadership role even beyond the court at Reserve, Hutchins believes athletics have a core purpose for all students, regardless of the loftiness of their aspirations.

"My main goal for students is that they love their sport,” he said. “They need to be excited about what they are doing. I want to put students in a position to reach their goals, whatever they may be."

Hutchins has built his professional reputation in the areas of recruiting and player development.

"My work as a basketball coach, classroom teacher and admissions officer has given me the opportunity to interact with elite coaches, educators, administrators and many parents and alumni,” Hutchins said. “I am as comfortable discussing school culture with prospective families as I am helping student-athletes find the right fit for college. Still, what I like more than anything is communicating with people on a genuine level about things that matter."

Hutchins and Adams-Wall have been collaborating to maximize the new structure.

"This is something I'm really excited about," Adams-Wall said. "We have such a good group of returning players and I know them pretty well. I'm looking forward to the change."

Adams-Wall has a great deal of experience, both as a player and a coach. He played for the College of Wooster and in his junior year, his team competed in the NCAA DIII men's basketball championship game. After graduating, he coached at Wooster before taking a role at Western Reserve Academy's admission office.

Adams-Wall, who spent four years as the Pioneers’ head coach, was previously an assistant coach for the varsity boys basketball team. During his coaching career, Adams-Wall has seen players graduate to compete at Columbia (New York), Williams, Bowdoin (Maine), Oberlin and Elon (North Carolina).

"Emily has done such a good job developing this great culture of positivity," he said. "That's definitely something I want to continue. She's also done a great job coaching players with such different goals. You have your students like Jade and Jai DuVal, who are playing at Amherst and Bowdoin.

“Those aren't just two of the top academic schools in the country — they are two of the top DIII women's basketball programs in the country as well. And you have players who are here just to be better athletes and because they want to be a part of a team."

"With Emily Thews going on maternity leave, I am excited to have Thomas switch to the girls basketball program and lead the team for the 2020-21 season," Haller said. "This move will allow us to continue to raise the bar for girls basketball at WRA."

Adams-Wall is looking forward to his new role.

"As their coach, I want them to have fun and I want them to be great competitors," he said. "I'm ready to help them hone and develop their skills, achieve their dreams and get them playing at the next level, wherever that may be.”