By STEVE KRAH
Aaron Wells grew up in the Delaware County, Ind., community of Cowan, just south of Muncie.
“I have always taken pride in the fact that I was raised in Cowan,” says Wells. “I honestly believe that it is has always been one of the closest-knit communities. Everybody knows everybody and would do anything to help a neighbor in need at anytime.”
Wells, 27, was recently named baseball head coach at his alma mater and is to join the teaching staff at Cowan Elementary School in January 2021. He is currently finishing his tenure in the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township in Indianapolis at Rhoades Elementary.
Growing up, Wells played at what is now known as the Cowan Baseball and Softball League and then shined for four varsity baseball seasons as a catcher for Cowan Junior/Senior High School, playing his first three for Camden Parkhurst and his senior year for Seth Paul. As a senior in 2012, Wells was an all-state selection.
“I was able to learn many aspects of the game from both coaches,” says Wells of Parkhurst and Paul. “I was able to learn how to actually ‘enjoy’ the game when I was playing with Camden.
“During my first two years at Cowan, it was a very memorable time to be a Blackhawk baseball player. I was able to learn from some of the greatest players to ever come from the program during those years. Justin O’Conner, Jake O’Conner, Kirby Campbell, Cody Campbell, just to name a few.
“I truly fell in love with the game of baseball when I was playing with those guys and playing underneath Camden. I learned how to compete at an extremely high level and also have fun at the same time. It is a mix that I still carry with me today.”
Paul taught Wells a different set of skills.
“We actually had a tendency to share some disagreements when I was playing underneath him,” says Wells. “He challenged me and pushed me mentally more than any coach had before. He made me not just love the game, but begin to understand it and what it takes to win.
“Our team was not as skilled as the earlier Cowan teams my senior year, but we came together due to great chemistry and how well Seth prepared us. Being the (Hoosier Heritage Conference) champion in 2012 is still one of my favorite baseball memories. We did not win that conference title with skill alone, we won it with passion and hard work. It was a great year to exit as a Blackhawk.”
While in high school, Wells was with the Indiana Bulls and Indiana Mustangs as well as the Muncie American Legion Post 19 Chiefs.
Wells was at catcher/third baseman for two seasons (2013 and 2014) at Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., for Rick Espeset. The 2013 Spartans went 39-7-1 and played in the program’s second NCAA Division III World Series.
“I learned so many things from Coach Espeset in the two years I was there,” says Wells. “The greatest part of coaching that I learned from Coach Espy was organization.
“He was the most organized coach that I ever had the privilege of playing for. Every player knew exactly what to do and where to be every single day at practice and that was because of how well-oiled of a machine he created.”
Espeset posted daily practice plans that were down to the exact minute and he expected his players to follow that plan.
Another thing that got Wells’ attention is that Espeset had his seniors do the “grunt” work of baseball.
“It wasn’t the freshman carrying the bags to the buses or making sure the field was in perfect condition — it was the seniors,” says Wells. “This set a tone for me as a player because I knew the seniors were never getting out of the grunt work and that made me want to work even harder as a freshman.”
Wells also recalls an acronym that was a big part of the Manchester program — T.O.B.
That stands for “transfer of blame.”
“Teams that struggle to compete always have a ‘transfer of blame,’ which means they never take accountability for their own mistakes,” says Wells. “They want to transfer the blame to something or someone else.
“I remember one instance where a player was late to practice and he came in and said, ‘my alarm didn’t go off’ and the whole dugout just responded T.O.B and that player knew that excuse wasn’t going to fly.
“I only played two years at Manchester, but I learned so many things that I still carry with me today.”
Wells transferred to Ball State University in Muncie and received his Elementary Education degree in 2017.
In 2015 and 2016, Wells coached on Paul’s staff at Delta High School — also in Delaware County.
“Seth and I are extremely competitive and I believe that was what helped us become successful together at Delta,” says Wells. “He knew my passion and knowledge of the game and allowed me to input my own philosophies and thoughts into the daily practices.
“The experience with Seth allowed me to truly fall in love with the game as a coach rather than just a player. I started to experience the challenges of coaching that you never think of when you are just playing. He allowed me to observe him and shadow him to start to fully understand what it means to become a head coach.”
Another of Wells’ favorite baseball memories was when Delta won the 2016 IHSAA Class 3A Bellmont Regional and competed in the Kokomo Semistate.
Wells was an assistant at Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers in 2019 and 2020. Royals head coach Jeremy Sassanella made him a junior varsity head coach.
“I gained so much knowledge of how to be a coach from Coach Sass,” says Wells. “We began to start working together in late February due to a coach leaving the program in early 2019.
“I immediately picked up on his genuineness as a person. He honestly cares and loves every single player and staff member in his program. His greatest strength I believe is how well he communicates with his players, staff, and most importantly the parents in the program.
“He treats every single player in his program the exact same way no matter if they are a freshmen just entering the program or the 4A state final starting pitcher. He expects every player to control two things: FOCUS and EFFORT. If you control those two things he will never be upset with you and I respected that as a staff member.”
Hamilton Southeastern reigned as IHSAA Class 4A state champions in 2019. Of course, the 2020 season was taken away by COVID-19.
Wells’ coaching resume all includes three summers with the Indiana Prospects (2018-20). He was head coach for 14U for two years and 15U for one.
“My experience with the Prospects organization was a great one,” says Wells. “I was able to meet great people while I was coaching with them such as Shane Stout, Chad Hinds and Ed Woolwine.
“These connections let me get to know families in the Indianapolis area where I was able to open my own catching school at (Woolwine-owned) Fishers Sports Academy for local up-and-coming or high school players in the area. I am still currently working with my catching school and excited to start up lessons very soon.”
Aaron married the former Valorie Flick Sept. 5 and the couple resides in Noblesville, Ind. She is a 2016 Cowan graduate. As a volleyball libero she helped the Blackhawks to the first IHSAA state title in any team sport in the fall of 2012. She collected 26 digs in the Class 1A championship match against Loogootee.
Valorie went on to a standout career at the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne and completed her first season a head volleyball coach at Daleville Junior/Senior High School in Delaware County in 2020.
Aaron is the son of Indiana Wesleyan University graduates Steve and Karen Wells and the younger brother of Matt Wells (who works for a South Bend area law firm and has a toddler with wife Kristin).