FORT WAYNE – J.J. Foster is getting his chance to run a boys basketball program after being hired as the new coach at Bishop Luers.
Foster, who was the Wayne girls basketball coach last season, will replace James Blackmon Sr., who left recently to become the boys coach at Marion.
With what James has established, it is an intriguing job, Foster said. Luers has gathered some top-quality athletes during his tenure, and it has become one of the premier jobs around the city, if not the state.
Foster was an assistant boys coach at Harding before taking over the schools girls program in 2006 and remained as coach until the school closed in 2011.
He was the girls coach at Wayne last season and was an assistant boys coach with the Generals in 2011-12.
People that know me know that my ultimate goal was to get back on the boys side, Foster said. It was special with what we did on the boys side at Harding with coach (Al) Gooden. I always wanted to get my own program.
I enjoyed my time on the girls side, and it was definitely a good learning experience. It feels good to get back on the boys side.
Foster was 56-75 overall coaching the girls at Harding (50-62, six seasons) and Wayne (6-13, one season).
Taking over the Harding girls program with seven games left in the 2006 season, Foster led the Hawks to sectional and regional titles. He also won a sectional title the following season.
He is an emerging coach and has had some opportunities as an assistant and shown some promise as a boys coach, and as a girls coach, he has done some nice things, Luers athletic director Jim Huth said. We just think of the candidates who applied, he was the one who will help our program move and serve our kids the best.
Huth said four candidates were interviewed for the position.
Blackmon coached the Knights for nine seasons and won two Class 2A state titles, but in April he took the job at Marion, his alma mater.
I miss James and loved working with him, Huth said. He was a great coach, but it is time to move forward.
Along with a coach, Luers also lost two talented basketball players in Blackmons sons, James Blackmon Jr. and Vijay Blackmon, leaving a void in basketball talent at the school.
In the short term, it probably will be, but Luers has athletes over there, especially on the football side, Foster said. Anytime you have athletes, you are going to be all right. Especially with the some of the stuff I like to do, where you put some athletes on the floor, and the play defense and rebound.
If you have guys who play hard, you will be in the game.
Like Blackmon Sr., though, Foster will start replenishing the talent at Luers with his own son, also named J.J. Foster.
The younger Foster helped Blackhawk Middle School to back-to-back city titles and just missed out on a third.
Hes been working at it but he has a ways to go, the elder Foster said of his son, nicknamed Little J.
But he is off to a pretty good start.