Traffanstedt picking up boys basketball reins at Sand Rock

New Sand Rock head boys basketball coach Nick Traffanstedt, left, gives instruction to junior high basketball player Ryker Sinclair during a scrimmage with Geraldine on Monday afternoon at Sand Rock. Photo by Shannon Fagan.

By Shannon Fagan, WEIS Sports Director

SAND ROCK – There’s a lot of construction going on at Sand Rock School these days. The Wildcats are in the process of getting a new school den, and the varsity boys basketball team is adjusting to new head coach Nick Traffanstedt.

Traffanstedt was recently promoted to lead the Wildcat boys. He’s taking over for veteran coach John Blackwell, who retired at the end of the 2022-23 season. The Wildcats finished 22-11 and earned a berth in the Class 2A state semifinals last season.

The 40-year-old Traffanstedt has been an assistant with the Wildcats for the past couple of seasons, but he’s excited to be picking up the reins from Blackwell.

“I’ve always wanted to coach. That’s where my heart is,” Traffanstedt said. “I thank (Sand Rock Principal) Mr. (Ben) East for allowing me to coach and giving me a chance. I appreciate Coach (Brian) Mackey, Coach Blackwell, Coach (Kenny) Beck and Coach Lisa Bates for helping me out.”

Traffanstedt, a 2001 Collinsville graduate, has quietly been guiding the Wildcats since the last school year ended. Last week he took them to Gadsden State Community College for a pair of play dates against Cornerstone Christian out of Birmingham and Etowah. Although the Wildcats didn’t win either contest, Traffanstedt was impressed with what he saw.

“Both of those teams were Elite 8 teams last year, and I was a little worried coming in because we don’t have a lot of depth, but they really surprised me,” he said. “I dressed eight the other day. It’s going to be a fluid situation, and I may have to move up some young guys to fill out the roster, but just seeing where things were and getting our feet wet, we did really well. I was impressed by their chemistry and the way they play together.

“The chemistry really didn’t surprise me because they’ve been together for so long. Zach Clanton, Cam Gifford, Jake Middlebrooks, Morgan Tucker, Dominic Clausen, Gatlin Cox, Carson Wiford and Ty Traffanstedt have all played together. Their chemistry is there. They just need that experience. We don’t have a lot because we lost eight seniors last year, but the numbers we do have are really good kids and they’re working hard. I’m enjoying every bit of it.”

Traffanstedt is also working with the junior high Wildcats. He led them in a home scrimmage against Geraldine on Monday.

“I enjoy coaching the junior high because it’s a lot of teaching. The kids enjoy it and that makes me enjoy it,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun doing both. It’s a lot of time, but I love it.”

Traffanstedt and his wife Ashton Grace have two children: Ty, a rising freshman, and Cade, a rising third grader.

“There’s a lot more to this job than just coaching, but I love it. I embrace it, and I’m ready for it,” Traffanstedt said. “I can’t wait until the season starts. I’m fired up about it. I’ve got a lot to learn but I am super excited that I get this opportunity.”

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