Angola coach cherishes small-town roots, but holds a big-city perspective

Fourth-year Angola High School girl's basketball coach Brandon Appleton

Brandon Appleton has walked down a number of varying streets in his 35 years and he’ll be the first to admit that he is the better for it.

The fourth-year girl’s basketball coach at Angola High School grew up in the blue-collar Indiana town of Peru before attending college at then-Tri-State University, which is just a long jump shot from where he works today.

“As I have gotten along in the community,” Appleton told of being in Angola prior to this season, “you learn to grow to love it, because they just want what is best for their kids and their community, and they show a lot of support behind that.”

Appleton has his Hornets playing fantastic basketball for the fourth straight season, but he – and his players – will have their hands full tonight, as they face Central Noble in the quarterfinal round of the Northeast Corner Conference Tournament.

Angola (15-3) will host the two-time defending tournament champion Cougars (15-3) at 6 p.m.

Appleton has spent a lot of time in the town of Angola, both as a college student and now a father, husband, and educator, but he also worked for several years coaching and teaching in Indianapolis, which opened his maturing eyes in a very positive way.

“I think that there are a lot of things that you learn through time and through your experiences,” Appleton said of his life journey, “that hopefully develop you into who you are and who your family, hopefully, will be one day.”

Peru and Angola provide very similar environments, but when Appleton taught at Nora Elementary School on the near-north side of Indianapolis, the student body consisted of children that spoke from “27 different languages,” and he embraced that cultural difference.

“That is a big concern or complaint, maybe, with Angola,” Appleton explained, “is the lack of diversity in the hallways. I almost feel more uncomfortable surrounded by a group of Caucasian people than I do one that shows a lot of diversity.”

Appleton and his wife, Sarah, have two children and though they are just three and five years of age, they have already had discussions regarding what type of community that they would want to raise their family in.

Appleton was a tremendous athlete at Peru High School and was able to participate in any activity that he chose, but there are benefits to being in a more urban – and diverse – locale.

“For the past year,” Appleton said, “we’ve already had that discussion. Do we want to raise them in a small community, where they can maybe play three sports and maybe have some success individually? Or do we want to throw them to the wolves in a bigger city and see how they can compete?”

“We just don’t know.”

Being an educator and his wife working in finance, the Appleton family will have its residential options as time moves forward, but what the Appleton’s do know for certain is that their kids will be aware of the world and its magnitude and differences.

“I can teach and coach anywhere,” Appleton said, “and I hope our kids can always adapt. What I want our kids to understand, when they get older, is that the world is bigger than Angola. The world is bigger than Indianapolis. I want them to understand that.”

“When they see somebody of any color of skin or any race, creed or religion, it is not ‘Hey, that is a black person,’ it is just somebody’s name. Their color will have nothing to do with it.”

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