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Nathan Wall

Nathan Wall poses for a photo after summer camp last week at Aquinas High School. Wall is the new head coach for the Aquinas girls basketball team.

Nathan Wall has many connections to Butler County.

He first moved into the area his freshman year of high school where he attended East Butler High and played for his dad. The Walls and the Tigers of 2000 and 2001 are still the only two teams in school history to qualify to the state tournament.

After stops at Pender, Wayne and Meridian, he became David City girls coach in 2014.

After five seasons, Wall is moving across town to Aquinas Catholic, taking over for Tony Smith who stepped into the position for a year when a worthy candidate could not be located.

Wall and his wife, Karla (Rezac) Wall, a fellow East Butler grad, moved back to the area five years ago to be closer to family. As he transitions to the lead Monarch, Wall will now be leaving his mark on the third of four schools in Butler County.

"Coach (Tony) Smith was the head coach last year and did a great job with a once-in-a-generation type of senior class," Wall said after a day of Aquinas Girls Summer Camp last week. "The opportunity was there, and I took a risk and applied for it. I kind of felt like it was fate."

Smith helped coach the Aquinas girls to a 16-6 record and a final No. 7 rating by the Lincoln Journal Star. Next season though, the roster will have 10 graduates to replace that led the team in nearly every statistical category.

Regardless of that rebuild, Wall said the opportunity wasn't one he could pass up.

"I thought it was just worth a shot," he said. "As fate would have it, I was lucky enough to get the position. I knew I would regret it if I didn't pursue it.

"I'm just excited to be a part of Aquinas athletics and their tradition of athletics, their tradition of success and their culture of work. I feel like it's a perfect fit philosophywise between myself and Aquinas Catholic schools."

Wall won a high of 13 games during his first year in David City. Over five years with the Scouts, his teams went 34-78. Aquinas was 53-59 during that same time span.

"I took a chance and I am very thankful to Father (Sean) Timmerman and coach (Ron) Mimick for taking a chance on me as well and allowing me this opportunity, which I feel is like inheriting the keys to a Cadillac," Wall said. "It's a great program. Aquinas' history of success in all athletics is something that is pretty great."

Aquinas has three state tournament appearances in the last ten years including a runner-up finish in 2009. 

Wall has wasted no time getting to know his new team. He said he's watched every game from last year's junior varsity team, which will make up the majority of the 2020 varsity team.

With the brand new squad, Wall said it's too early to tell how Aquinas stacks up to the rest of its competition in a rugged Centennial Conference, but he expects to learn a lot more during the summer league games.

"What I do know after playing two summer league games on May 28 is that the effort and intensity is tremendous," Wall said. "That is always, always going to give you a chance to be successful."

That will be important when facing the likes of Wahoo Neumann, Lincoln Christian, Hastings St. Cecilia and traditional rival Scotus Central Catholic. 

During the state tournament last year, the Centennial Conference went 11-1 with the only loss coming to another Centennial Conference member. Neumann won Class C-1 over Lincoln Christian. St. Cecilia took the class C-2 title and Fremont Bergan won a championship in D-1.

"It's too early to tell (how good we'll be next year)," Wall said. "The Centennial Conference is the premier conference in the state of Nebraska. I'm extremely honored to coach in the premier conference in the state of Nebraska."

While Wall will be coaching at Aquinas, he will continue to teach inside the David City Public Schools in Bellwood. Wall said he is grateful to both school systems allowing him to take advantage of the opportunity.

While the Aquinas girls basketball team will participate in summer practices and games, the official start of the 2019-20 high school girls basketball season is Nov. 18 of 2019 which is the first date that winter sports can start practice.

Jamboree games start on Nov. 25 and the first official games start Dec. 5.

Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at DVDsports@lee.net

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