Travis Wrightsman, shown holding the net after his South Ripley Raiders won the sectional title in 2017, was hired as the new head boys basketball coach at Switzerland County on Monday. (Submitted photo)
Travis Wrightsman, shown holding the net after his South Ripley Raiders won the sectional title in 2017, was hired as the new head boys basketball coach at Switzerland County on Monday. (Submitted photo)
Travis Wrightsman may have been coaching on the opposite bench, but he got to know the folks at Switzerland County pretty well during his long and successful tenure at South Ripley High School. So when the veteran coach decided to get back into the game, he knew that the “school down south” would be a perfect fit.

Wrightsman was officially hired as the new head boys basketball coach at Switzerland County on Monday, replacing Adam Dennis who had resigned shortly after the season ended. Wrightsman brings a wealth of experience and success to his new job, one that he knows pretty well.

“I’m really excited to get back to southeastern Indiana, coming to Switzerland County and becoming a Pacer,” Wrightsman said. “We were big rivals with Switzerland County when I was at South Ripley so I know the guys at Switzerland County a whole lot. (Former athletic director and boys basketball coach) David Todd is the principal down there and he’s great to work for and Mark Boggs, who is the AD and used to coach in boys basketball, I know well.

“Getting to work with those guys was a huge draw in coming to Switzerland County.”

Wrightsman helped build South Ripley into one of the Ohio River Valley Conference’s top programs during his 10-year tenure. He went 133-102 over that span with only four losing seasons, only two of which saw the Raiders win fewer than 10 games. Ripley won sectional titles in 2010, 2015 and 2017 and was the regional runner-up in 2015. His 2016 team was arguably his best, going 20-5 before getting upset in the sectional final.

Wrightsman left South Ripley after the 2018 season when he and his family moved to Missouri. They returned this past year and the coach began looking for a job.

“My wife is from Missouri so we moved out there and did the Missouri thing for a while. But I couldn’t stay away from Indiana basketball for long,” Wrightsman joked. “I hated to see Adam Dennis leave; he’s done a great job and he has a built a nice program, but this seemed like the perfect fit.”

Overall, Wrightsman is 264-159 as a head varsity basketball coach.

“We are very excited to bring someone in with the credentials of coach Wrightsman. Coach Wrightsman brings experience and a winning culture to our program,” Boggs said. “I am very familiar with him due to the many times we competed against his teams at South Ripley. I’ve always admired how hard his teams played and how successful they were during the postseason. Most importantly, we feel he will teach our kids good, strong values that will help prepare them for life after high school.”

Wrightsman takes over a Switzerland County job that will be in a rebuilding mode. Despite getting outscored by just five points a game this past season, the Pacers were only 6-18 overall and lost all five starters to graduation.

As a result, Switzerland County will be a young team but Wrightsman is ready for the challenge.

“That was another huge draw to coming to Switzerland County. They’ve had some great coaches and great teams over the years,” said Wrightsman, who went 12-9 against the Pacers during his tenure at South Ripley. “They lost a lot of tough, close games this year and I know that they’re losing a lot of seniors, so we’re going to have very few guys coming back. But I’m excited to meet these guys and get to know them and start coaching.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools in Indiana have been closed through the remainder of the education year. Right now it is unknown whether normal activities will resume over the summer, especially during the month of June when high school basketball teams are able to compete in summer leagues. Regardless of when action resumes, Wrightsman said he’ll be ready.

“I don’t expect a lot to happen during the summer but that’s OK, we’ll get in there once school starts and get going,” Wrightsman said. “And we’ll be ready when November rolls around.”