Sherron Wilkerson, pictured on the sidelines at Shawe Memorial last year, has been hired as Madison boys varsity head basketball coach. (Courier file photo by David Campbell)
Sherron Wilkerson, pictured on the sidelines at Shawe Memorial last year, has been hired as Madison boys varsity head basketball coach. (Courier file photo by David Campbell)
Sherron Wilkerson’s week didn’t get off to the best start. On Monday, while commuting from his home in Louisville to his job in Madison, Wilkerson hit a deer for the first time in his life.

“I was just cruising along, singing to the radio to be honest, and it just came out of nowhere,” said Wilkerson, reciting the familiar lament of everybody who has had the misfortune of striking a deer with their car. “I told my wife, ‘Man, this week is off to a bad start. Hopefully this isn’t an omen of things to come.’”

As it turns out, Wilkerson’s week ended up getting a whole lot better. After years of trying, Wilkerson finally landed a job he has coveted for years when he was named the new head boys basketball coach at Madison Consolidated High School on Wednesday.

Wilkerson has worked at the Vehicle Service Group in Madison for the past 12 years and the last two times the coaching job has come open, he has applied only to miss out.

“It’s funny how things work out. They say third time is the charm,” said Wilkerson, who was approved by the Madison School Board of Trustees by a 5-0 vote. “It’s just a testament to the fact that sometimes things don’t go the way you want. But if you keep pushing, things can work out. I hope by this process I can use this as a motivating factor for our guys.”

Wilkerson was a standout athlete at Jeffersonville High School where he was a McDonald’s All-American in 1993 and briefly Mr. Basketball before heading to Indiana University and eventually Rio Grande University in Ohio, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in 1996. After a four-year professional playing career overseas, Wilkerson got into coaching, first as head coach of Herron Charter School in Indianapolis for a season and later with stops at Indiana University Southeast, Lamar University, Lincoln Trail College and back home to his alma mater, Jeffersonville High School.

He spent last season across town at Shawe Memorial High School as head coach where the Hilltoppers went 4-19 before he announced his resignation after the season.

Wilkerson freely admits that coaching at a small school like Shawe proved to be a culture shock and that while he loved the school and the people, it just wasn’t the right fit for him.

“Shawe is an absolutely wonderful place with wonderful people and a wonderful school academically and I even think athletically they have an opportunity to do special things there,” Wilkerson said. “For me personally, I see the game at such a high level and going from a professional mentality to a 1A mentality is a really, really tough transition and I’ll be honest, I thought I would be able to maintain that mentality. But it was really tough from that aspect.”

Wilkerson wasn’t looking for another head coaching job after leaving Shawe and even when the Madison job opened a week later, he was hesitant. But it didn’t take long before his co-workers at VSG began urging him to apply and he warmed to the idea.

“I work with a lot of parents who have kids who play sports for Madison and when the job opened up, everybody was pushing for me to apply so I did,” said Wilkerson. “This time it ended up working out in my favor.”

As a player and later assistant coach at Jeffersonville, Wilkerson has had a chance to see Madison up close for the past 30 years. While some see Madison as merely the smallest school in a power conference, Wilkerson sees a program that was once among the state’s best and has a chance to return to that level.

“There is a really rich tradition from a basketball standpoint and from an athletic standpoint. Growing up in Jeffersonville and coming to Madison to play Jason Perry and Travis Inskeep, those guys were really, really good,” Wilkerson said. “They’re in a really good conference. We get to play New Albany and Floyd Central and Bedford and Jeffersonville so it’s really attractive not only from that aspect, but from the talent and the commitment from the kids they have coming through. That makes a coach’s job really, really easy.”

And about that conference? Rather than seeing the Hoosier Hills Conference as a weight around Madison’s neck, Wilkerson sees it as a group of schools that can make each other better.

“It’s a little bit different at the high school level. If this was at the college level, the conference would be extremely important because that dictates what you do in the tournament,” Wilkerson said. “Fortunately, at the high school level, conference is important but it’s not as important as the sectional, regional, semistate and state. It puts us in a really good position to prepare ourselves for the tournament facing such good competition. I’m really looking forward to it.

“I know there is a lot of talk about changing conferences and obviously I would support any direction that they wanted to take, but for me, I say stay,” Wilkerson added. “Let’s see where we are and what we need to do to prepare for the tournament.”

Wilkerson replaces Mark McFarland, who was 21-27 in two seasons with the Cubs, including 12-12 last year. According to Madison principal Michael Gasaway, the school received 19 applicants for the job. A committee narrowed that list to five last week and three on Tuesday. Wilkerson was offered the job Wednesday morning.

“We are excited to welcome coach Wilkerson to the Madison family. He not only brings 20 years of coaching experience and a wealth of basketball knowledge, but also brings extensive personal experience as a premier player at the high school, college and professional/international levels,” Madison athletic director Joe Bronkella said in a statement. “Wilkerson brings a very unique skill set to our program. His experience and coaching philosophy are both elements which can take our program to the next level. Above that, his personal commitment to the academic and athletic success in the short term and focus on the importance of post-secondary opportunities for our student athletes was a huge piece of the interest in this hire.”

Wilkerson lives in Louisville with his wife, Carissa, and daughter, Brooke, but he said there are plans to move closer to Madison — especially considering how this week started.

“It’s hard because I’m a city boy at heart,” Wilkerson said with a laugh. “But I don’t want to go through that with a deer again.”