Growing up the son of a coach, Andrew Titus knew he wanted to someday become a coach himself.
But Titus never imagined he’d be leading a big-school soccer program at the age of 22. Yet the 2018 Hauser graduate is the head boys soccer coach at Jennings County.
“From the time I was a kid, I always told my dad that I wanted to be a coach,” Andrew said. “The coaches that I had, and my dad being a coach, made me pursue it because I wanted to impact these kids’ lives like I was impacted through sports.”
Titus played soccer and basketball at Hauser and soccer at Huntington University. He graduated from Huntington in May with a degree in exercise science and works part time as a rehabilitation aide at Athletico Physical Therapy in Greensburg.
When Jennings County needed an assistant boys soccer coach for this fall, Andrew’s father Jonathan told him of the opening.
“My dad had told me since he is a teacher at Jennings County that they needed a coach,” Andrew said. “So I was willing to step in and coach soccer since I had the experience of playing in college.”
The direction of the Panthers’ program took a turn about three weeks ago when head coach Seth Hall abruptly resigned. Andrew Titus assumed the head coaching role.
“They’ve been resilient,” Andrew said. “I know a coaching change can’t be easy on high schoolers midway through a season, but they’ve persevered and been real resilient through the whole process, which has been easy for me taking over.”
Andrew has a trusted figure by his side. He has enlisted Jonathan as his assistant coach.
“The AD (Cory Stevens) came to me and said, ‘How about you make your dad the assistant since he’s already at the games, and this way, he can get paid to be there,’ Andrew said. “I thought that was a good idea. “It’s been fun having dad on the sidelines. Sometimes, he works with the keepers, and I get to work with the other kids, so it takes a load off my back. It’s been nice having him here.”
Jonathan Titus, a Hope native, was part of the original group that started playing soccer in Columbus when the sport came to town. He has coached Andrew at the youth level in both soccer and basketball.
“We’ve been around it ever since he was in elementary school,” Jonathan said. “He thinks I know the game. I think I know the game.”
Jonathan spent time as both the head girls and boys basketball coach and assistant baseball coach at Southwestern (Shelby). He is in his 31st year of teaching, including his 18th year at Jennings County.
Jonathan said the principles of coaching basketball and soccer aren’t all that different.
“Kids are kids,” Jonathan said. “Like I’ve told (Andrew), you have to be positive and encouraging. If you can figure out what triggers a kid … some kinds you have to kind of lean on them, some kids you have to pat them on the back over and over, but if you find out what they respond to, I don’t think it matters what sport it is. From my time coaching basketball and coaching baseball, some kids will respond to different things. I told him when he first started, they have to know you care before they care what you know.”
Andrew stepped into a tough situation at Jennings. The Panthers are 1-10 following Thursday’s 8-0 loss at Columbus East.
But he sees light at the end of the tunnel.
“They’ve started to work a lot harder,” Andrew said. “The whole season, they’ve been improving, and that’s what I can ask for out of a young team. My seniors, the four captains, have been great in trying to lead these guys, trying to help me out as a first-time head coach. These kids are great kids, and they work hard for me, so that’s all I can ask.”
Andrew, who helped Hauser win a sectional basketball title as a junior in 2017, hopes to coach a little basketball, as well, at some point.
“Basketball coach is down the line,” Andrew said. “Maybe I’ll get the old man here to come out of retirement for basketball, too.”