- Alma School District
Young guns - 7/16/21
New seventh-grade coach ready to give back
By Kevin Taylor
Wyatt Nehus is sitting in Alma's basketball coach's office reflecting on life when he's asked about the 2020-21 basketball season. He's smiling.
Alma's new seventh-grade boys' basketball coach won't be wearing a splashy suit and tie when the youthful Airedales hit the floor in late November.
He will, however, carry with him his parents' work ethic.
"My work ethic came from them, Mom and Dad," Nehus said. "My dad (Robert) worked in Fort Smith, and living on Mount Magazine, he's got to drive an hour and 15 minutes every day — and he never missed a ballgame. That meant a lot to me. He never missed work, either.
"His actions, I try to abide by those."
Robert (friends call him Nub) and Bequita Nehus raised two boys, Dalton and Wyatt, to love sports, bleed Paris Eagle blue, and treat those around them with respect.
This summer, as Nehus is learning the names of his fresh-faced seventh-graders, the former Paris Eagle is happily giving back.
"I've loved sports since I was a little kid," Nehus said. "I've been playing sports since I was 4 or 5 years old. Being a leader, I feel like that's a big key to coaching. If you can change somebody's day, on the field, off the field, and on the court off the court. You never know what someone's going through.
"Seventh grade for me, a big thing is to make it fun — I want to make the kids invest in the program."
Nehus is in good company.
First-year Alma boys coach Dominic Lincoln, who was hired this spring to replace longtime head coach Stan Flenor, has re-energized practices with music and love.
Nehus is doing the same with his seventh-graders.
"Coach (Dominic) Lincoln is new and he's really changed the culture and the environment, and kids have already bought in," Nehus said. "He's only been here maybe a month; you can tell these kids already love him, and that inspires me to be a better coach.
"We have a really good staff with coach (Darin) Stahler, coach (Eddie) Corder, and coach (Chad) Powell. I feel really fortunate."
A 2016 Paris grad, Nehus graduated from Arkansas Tech last December while doing his student teaching at Dardanelle High School. It was here where he reaffirmed his love of athletics and desire to coach.
Nehus worked under Russell Sturdivant, a highly respected boys coach. He even got a front-row seat to see some of the kids he'll be rooting for this coming season.
"We (Dardanelle) actually had a great season," Nehus said. "He (Sturdivant) does things the right way down there. He's one of my mentors."
Late last December, Dardanelle rallied to beat Alma, 53-52.
"Alma ran a 1-3-1 at us with Hunter (McAlister) and (Nathan Whalen) at the top," Nehus said. "That was a great game."
Nehus, who will also help coach junior high football, was himself a football player until the ninth grade. But he turned his full attention to basketball from his sophomore season moving forward.
"I've played basketball year-round from seventh grade," he said. "Those are some of the best friendships I ever had. I still talk to everyone that was on that team. I would go to war with those guys.
"I'm still really close to Justin Ramos and Gage Hampton."