By LARRY VAUGHT
For the last 19 years Chris Souder has done everything possible to make the Mercer County High School girls basketball program one of the state’s elite programs.
The Titans have been to the last five 12th Region title games and won the last four regional championship. They won the state championship in 2017 — the first in school history — and repeated this year when Seygan Robins was named Miss Basketball. Robins signed with Louisville and two other players — Emma Davis and Emmy Souder — also signed Division I scholarships.
Now Souder is ready for another challenge as he’s accepted a job as assistant coach at Indiana State for recently hired head coach Vicki Hall.
Just like high school players dream of playing college basketball, Souder has often dreamed about being a college coach. That’s why even though he readily admits he “loves” Mercer County, he could not pass up this opportunity.
Hall, a former assistant at Toledo, knew Souder because she had recruited Davis and Emmy Souder. She had been to Mercer’s practices and wants to run a similar style offense to what Chris Souder used at Mercer to win at least 20 games 16 times and compile a 490-214 record.
Still, when he was offered the job, he had some reservations. Terre Haute, Ind., is northwest of Indianapolis and about four hours from Mercer County. His daughter is getting married in June, his son is in college and his wife teaches at Mercer. However, every family member told him it was an opportunity he could not ignore. His wife will continue to live in Mercer but will often make the drive to Terre Haute.
“I would not have considered this if my whole family had not been in favor of it,” Souder said. “My wife is very independent and has her buddies here.
“Getting this opportunity at my age is huge. There’s a small window at the Division I level. I may not like it but if I don’t try I would always have wondered about letting the opportunity pass by. The thought of doing basketball all day (and not teaching) intrigues me. I don’t like change, but this is about opportunity.”
Hall was Indiana’s 1988 Miss Basketball and a three-time all-Southwest Conference player at Texas. She won a world’s championship with the U.S. national team. Toledo averaged over 20 wins per season with her on staff.
She has also hired Quacy Barnes-Timmons, the first Indiana University player ever selected in the WNBA draft.
Souder is not sure about his exact role on the staff but knows he will be recruiting Kentucky where he has plenty of connections. He also said Hall likes the way he developed players.
“At the end of the day, basketball is basketball. It’s not a hard game unless the coach makes it too hard,” Souder, who starts his new job Friday, said. “I have not been an assistant coach in 25 years. But I don’t have an ego and I have never been a head coach at the college level. My goal now certainly will be to become a Division I head coach. That may not happen but I just don’t want to sit on the bench three or four years. I want to be all-in with this.”