Written By: Stacey LaDew - Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Associate Commissioner
| Wells Story |
CARMEL, Ind. - Coaching runs in the family. No one exemplifies that statement more than the Wells dynasty. With three generations of collegiate coaches in the family, two are currently at the helm of two Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) programs. Hanover College head cross country coach Brady Wells and Bluffton University head cross country coach Logan Wells have made it a family business.
Brady knew from a young age that he wanted to be a coach. His Father coached both baseball and basketball at Tri State, now Trine University. Following in his father's footsteps was a no-brainer.
"Growing up around my dad and having those experiences on a daily basis, I knew early on this is what I wanted to do," recalled Brady. "I love athletics, I knew as an athlete you're only going to be able to compete for so long. I knew I could stay involved, and I could make a difference as a coach. I wanted kids to have the same experiences I had, and that's why I'm still doing it. Yeah, I love to compete, I love to win, and watch kids get better, but to me, it's more about the other things that you learn. The coaching part of it was instilled in me very early - and it's something I would not change one bit."
The path to coaching for both Brady and Logan ran through Hanover. Brady became familiar with the campus on trips with his dad, when his Tri-State teams would suit up against the Panthers. It wasn't long before Brady began being recruited by Hanover to be both a cross country and basketball student-athlete, and the rest is history.
"Hanover was one of the places where I was going to have the opportunity to do both basketball and run, so that really intrigued me," Brady noted. "A combination of having the athletic opportunities, loving the campus, and I had also heard a great deal about the school. Being able to be here for four years as a student athlete was really important to me. I had a great experience with cross country and track and field and having success with Hanover athletics catapulted me into the teaching and coaching realm."
Brady went on to have an illustrious coaching career at the high school level, on the sidelines of not only cross country meets, but also in the head coaching chair in track and field and basketball. After 22 seasons, Brady made the switch to college sports with his first role being right back at home, as an assistant coach for the Hanover men's basketball team.
Like Brady had with his Father, Logan was already following in his Dad's footsteps, tagging along at many of his dad's practices, camps and competitions. It was about the time that Brady made his return to Hanover that Logan also made the decision to lace up for the Panthers.
"I tell our recruits all the time when they come on visits that you've got to find a place that feels like home, and for me that was what the decision came down to - it felt like home," recalled Logan. "Both of my parents had gone there, I had been around campus a lot growing up, and my dad was coaching basketball there at the time, so it was an easy transition. I knew I could get a really quality education there and still compete at a high level."
With the spirit of competition in their blood, it's no surprise that Logan also had another reason for wanting to race for Hanover.
"I wanted to knock my dad off that [records] list, that was always one of my goals," confessed Logan. "As an athlete, every day at practice, stretching underneath the record board, and looking up and seeing my dad's name, I really wanted to challenge myself to knock him down a few pegs, and was lucky enough to get the opportunity to do that."
Both men still sit in the Top-20 list for the 8-Kilometer at Hanover. Logan's time of 25:29 in 2014 put him in fifth while Brady's 26:01 in 1982 earn him the No. 18 spot.
Following his last race as a Panther, Logan had his sights set on other career opportunities. While waiting to get into graduate school, Logan decided to help his dad, who had taken over as the Hanover cross country coach, as an assistant.
"I kind of did that as a place holder until I could reapply to graduate school and fell in love with it," Logan said. "Being back around the team and obviously working with my dad was a really special opportunity. I think that woke up some of those dormant feelings of coaching that I didn't necessarily know were there. I think [Dad] probably knew from an earlier age that was what he wanted to do, but for me it was a little different experience."
Brady looks back on the 'bonus time' he got to spend with Logan very fondly, and little did he know he was helping to pave his path to coaching, much like his father had done for him.
"I'll be honest with you - the best time in coaching in my life was having him here," noted Brady. "We bonded on a different level looking at it from the coaching side of things."
Logan was named the Head Men's and Women's Cross Country Coach at Bluffton University in January, 2019, two years after his dad took over the program at Hanover. For Logan, having a front row seat to his father's coaching journey has helped him develop into the coach he is today.
"He did coach me, officially for one year in high school, but throughout life he's been a great coach for me," stated Logan. "Whether that's challenging me athletically or helping me in my personal life. I wasn't the typical coaches kid who has a lot of pressure on them. He wanted to support me in what I wanted to do and help me be the best I could be. Because of that I learned about those qualities of caring and empathy and how to deal with athletes. All the same things he admires in me are all the same things I admire in him and those are the things I learned from him. I have been really fortunate with it being my first head coaching job to have that mentor there for me and make that transition a lot easier."
With Brady and Logan's relationship taking the notion of 'family' within the HCAC to another level, they have also found other aspects that demonstrate the unity found within the Heartland.
"Having been an athlete in the HCAC not that long ago, a lot of the coaches that are here were there when I was an athlete," Logan said. "It's been an interesting transition going from them being the authority figures to now my peers. It's been really great to have those coaches be mentors to me in the same way my dad has been. Coach Cashdollar at Manchester, Coach Wayton at Rose-Hulman and several others saw me as an athlete and now see me as a coach. I can call them and pick their brains just as easily as I can my dad's. It feels like a big family, and having my dad there helps that, but even if he wasn't there, the comradery and the collegiality we have amongst our peers and our colleagues is something that's really unique and not something you see in every conference."
It's obvious in talking with both Coach Well's that they have a mutual admiration and respect for one another. Passed down for generations, the coaching gene runs strong.
"I admire the fact that he really, really cares about his kids, and he really wants them to be successful," toted Brady. "And when I say be successful, I'm not just saying as an athlete. When I see him talking about recruiting, it's very obvious that those kids are important to him and mean a lot to him. He's wanting to get the best experience that he can for them. I think that's one of the things in coaching, that can get lost a little bit in all the competitiveness. But ultimately, and especially at the D3 level, that's got to be our main focus. He gets it. That's something that I saw from day one, and it's something to me if you keep that perspective, you're going to be able to coach for a long time, and you're going to be able to do it successfully because you've got the right perspective."
Brady and Logan still lace up, toeing the line side by side at community races. While age gives Logan the edge in times, he still has some work to do to catch his dad's marathon record. Brady has completed an impressive 22, 26.2 mile races, holding the Wells family record… for now. The running and coaching tradition races on.
The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) is proud to be #TheHeartOfD3, and share stories of how student athletes exemplify the mission of the NCAA Division III: Discover, Develop, Dedicate.