Will Ferris was destined to be a coach ever since he was on the basketball courts during recess in fifth grade.
“I created teams at recess,” Ferris said. “I would run practices and steal my dad’s clipboard and run plays. I found players who would fit each role and loved coaching and thought it was something I want to do.”
Ferris recently took over as Bainbridge’s boys basketball coach after Steve Haizlip resigned after the 2022-23 season.
“This is an opportunity that isn’t around many other places because there is one school vs. a million they can transfer to,” Ferris said. “My hope is it becomes a big community that kids want to be a part of.”
Ferris began coaching for the Bainbridge Roots youth program in 2017. He led the Roots to a state championship in 2022 and a runner-up finish in 2023. Ferris’ success at the youth level taught him how to build a respectable program in a short amount of time.
“I learned how to prepare and create practice plans,” Ferris said. “Also, taking on the grind of playing so many games and understanding what types of defenses and offenses there are. I coached around seventy games last year so I probably saw every defense and every offense.”
Before coaching for the Roots, Ferris played in college. He began at Eastern Washington for two seasons, going to the NCAA tournament in 2015. Ferris finished his collegiate career at Azusa Pacific. His college basketball career helped him grow as a coach.
“I am able to relate to the kids and know what that feels like so that helps me,” Ferris said. “I went to a grad school program for an international coaching certificate that taught me what ethical coaching was and how to empower somebody compared to telling them what to do.”
Ferris still plays basketball at a high level. He competes professionally in the FIBA 3×3 basketball tour, competing for the Los Angeles squad. He is ranked as the 2,021st best 3-on3 player in the world and finished 10th at the 2023 USA Basketball 3x Nationals.
“Playing on the FIBA 3×3 circuit, I got invited to eight USA Basketball camps to be on the practice team for the Olympic and Americup squad,” Ferris said. “The play style of 3-on-3 is so fast and fluid that it gave me a new joy of basketball vs. a rigid system where you set ball screens and have to do this.”
Although high school basketball has five players instead of three, Ferris has taken some plays from the Serbian and German FIBA teams and plans to use them at the high school level.
Ferris also will bring a unique mental aspect to the high schoolers. Ferris created his own mental empowering business for players a couple of years ago.
“My first two years in college, I felt like one of the hardest workers in the country,” Ferris said. “I still didn’t feel confident or had the enjoyment of the game. Once I started to study different avenues, it became clear that there is nothing out there to help build your skills.”
Ferris earned a mindfulness certificate and created Will Wellness. “I worked with pro athletes to college athletes in different sports and the high school and youth programs on the island,” Ferris said. “It’s been successful because it offers something that is unique.”
Ferris’ goal with the business is to help athletes find responsibility for their negative patterns or if they feel uncomfortable. Ferris creates an intake system for his athletes where they can build mental reps to build confidence, power and responsibility.
Ferris has been spreading his wellness to the high school team since he began coaching them at the beginning of June. Although winning is an important aspect, Ferris is aiming for another goal in his first year.
“We are collaborating about the team values, and they are assisting the decision-making process of what is going on out there,” Ferris said. “My goal is by the end of next year, they are finding quicker ways to complete the goals themselves.”
Ferris has a final message he hopes rubs onto every player he coaches. “I ask every player, why is this a game worth playing?” Ferris said. “When they find that meaning, they will do anything they can to stay around the game. If I can inspire that level of love for basketball, I have done my job.”