Rejoice Christian faced the prospect of losing assistant coach Paige Wadley to another girls basketball program until athletic director Brent Marley and head coach Christie Wilson came up with an unusual solution.
Marley announced Monday, June 1, Wadley and Wilson, who had led the Eagles’ program the past two years, will swap roles. Wadley will take over as Rejoice’s next head coach with Wilson serving as assistant coach.
“It really is a unique story that normally doesn’t happen,” Marley said. “It’s a very selfless thing on coach Wilson’s part.”
Wilson guided Rejoice to a 26-31 record in her two years at the helm. The Eagles won a district title and claimed the program’s first-ever area tournament victory this past season.
Marley said the idea for the coaching switch came about a year ago. Wadley was a candidate for a head coaching job in the Tulsa metropolitan area when Wilson mentioned she would be willing to change coaching roles if it meant keeping Wadley at Rejoice.
“She told me that multiple times,” Wadley said of her prior conversations with Wilson. “I never took it serious.”
Wadley was again being courted for a recent head coach position in the area. Marley and Wilson revisited the idea of changing coaching titles. Wilson was again open to the move so Marley approached Wadley with the idea.
When Wadley was formally presented with the plan that would keep her at Rejoice, she relented.
“I said ‘no, I’m not doing that,’” Wadley said. “It was hard for me to grasp that level of selflessness. I had a little bit of a hard time wrapping my mind around that.”
Wadley, who said she has always felt a calling to lead a basketball program, eventually warmed up to the idea.
“I thought it was absolutely an incredibly selfless thing for coach Wilson to do,” Wadley said. “ … Us working together, I feel like it’s a rare thing to see each other’s strengths. We are opposites and it works so well. I can tell you, wholeheartedly, if I didn’t think this would work, I wouldn’t do it.”
Wilson and Wadley both came to Rejoice after each coached at Owasso and were part of Matt Sweeney’s staff when the Rams captured the 2017-18 state championship.
As a player, Wadley was part of a state runner-up squad at Savanna. She also played college basketball at Central Oklahoma. Wadley and her husband, Jason, have three children, Ayden, Jaxon and Ella.
Wadley said Rejoice has been like “home” since she and Wilson arrived in 2018 and felt fortunate to hold her first head coaching job at the north Owasso school.
“My heart is here at Rejoice and I want to keep building on what Christie and I started when we came over here,” she said.