Will Phipps is a name that is familiar to Baylor basketball fans. His brother Turner was a walk-on basketball player for Baylor when Scott Drew first took over the program. Will approached Baylor coach Matt Driscoll around that time and told Matt that he wanted to get into coaching. Matt told him what was involved and Will’s initial experience was at Baylor as a student coach.
Will’s first official experience on a college basketball staff after graduating from Baylor was at Georgia Tech under Paul Hewitt where he was able to see the work habits of guys like Chris Bosh, Jarrett Jack, Iman Shumpert and Derrick Favors. But Hewitt was fired two years after Will joined the staff so that ended up being a short stint.
After Georgia Tech, Will joined Bryce Drew’s staff at Valpo where he worked from 2011 to this summer. Will had the opportunity to lead the Greater Waco Sports Commission and return to Texas with his wife Lauren and two children- 2 years and 6 months. I caught up with Will about this venture and his plans for helping Waco become one of the preferred sports destinations in Texas for youth sports.
Bearstruth: Will- from our conversation this sounds like a great opportunity to help in the continued effort to revitalize Waco using sports as a vehicle.
Phipps: Yes- there are 18 million people in Texas within a 3 hour driving radius of Waco. The location is premier. The opportunities to make Waco a destination for youth sports- basketball; volleyball; softball; baseball; soccer; football; etc… are endless. There are also great opportunities for the less mainstream sports to be successful here. For example, we would like to utilize our natural resources like Cameron Park and the Brazos River for things like trail runs, Frisbee golf tournaments, mountain biking, rowing and sculling, etc… We are working on some pretty cool things from a facility standpoint. What I envision is having a multi-use sports complex similar to what you might see in Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin but to be able to attract a variety of youth events due to the location of being centrally located between the major population centers.
Bearstruth: I’m familiar with some of these facilities. I have been to the Bob Knight Fieldhouse in Duncanville and the Fieldhouse USA in Frisco for AAU basketball events. Is this the type of thing you are envisioning?
Phipps: Yes- we like some aspects of that facility but we would like to be able to do lots of different sporting events other than basketball/volleyball. It would be fantastic for the city of Waco. This is in the very early stages of discussion right now but we have clearly identified a need and I think there would be former Baylor athletes and Waco athletes that would love to see something like this happen in Waco because of the impact it could have on the community. It would give the younger generation of Waco athletes a place to showcase their talents.
Bearstruth: Obviously that will take work and years to get something like that off the ground. In the meantime, what is your focus?
Phipps: We want to identify areas that we can attract more events that aren’t already here. I believe if it isn’t broke don’t fix it so we are not going to take anything away from the great events that aren’t already here. We want to strategically bring in events that we don’t have and help us generate new streams of economic development that we aren’t currently tapping into. We are working with them to form partnerships in the community with potential sponsors and develop an inventory of all our great facilities to get help get events booked and off the ground. One of the challenges we have is hotel room inventory in the Waco area. In order to attract events on a bigger scale, we need to make sure we have adequate hotel facilities to meet the demand. We have several great hotels right now but I think having a few more wouldn’t hurt so we are having those conversations as well.
Bearstruth: How can the folks on Bearstruth help you?
Phipps: I would love to network with anyone who has good ideas and has experience in youth sports. But also just volunteering for events. We will have our website, WACOSPORTS.ORG soon and there will be opportunities to give back to the community by volunteering time to help serve at these events that attract to Waco. There will also be a place to suggest ideas and in the meantime those thoughts could be sent to [email protected]
Bearstruth: Thanks Will- keep us posted on the progress.
Phipps: I will- thanks for helping spread the word.