For the last eight years, Tyler Richardson has made the drive from Andover Central Middle School to Wichita Heights High School.

“I was always worried I was going to get yelled at by coach Auer for being late because of a speeding ticket,” Richardson said.

He’s paid his dues, being an assistant for Heights head coach Joe Auer for 15 years to getting of the prime job openings in the state. He’s won a lot and learned a lot during his time at Heights but Richardson is ready to make his own mark on basketball in the state of Kansas.

“He’s always been a hungry coach,” Auer said. “While he may have been the last one to arrive at practice, he was always the last to leave.”

His task will be huge, following coach Jesse Herrmann, who resigned after 19 years at Andover Central. He was the only head coach the school has ever known and now him and his assistants are gone. It’s left Richardson to build his own chapter as a Jaguar.

“I always envisioned myself taking over at Heights,” Richardson said. “I played there. I coached there but this is something I went for and it wasn’t given to me as someone might have thought with the Heights job. I earned this.”

When talking to other coaches around the area, Richardson is highly respected. He’s put the time in at Heights, starting by tracking stats for the junior varsity and then getting the freshman coaching position.

Richardson is a man of conviction when you talk to him. He’s honest and initially turned down Coach Auer’s first offer to coach at Heights.

“My brother was playing at the time, he was a senior,” Richardson said. “I loved watching him play and I couldn’t live with myself if I had missed his senior year.”

Once his brother graduated, Auer came calling again. This time, Richardson said yes.

Fast forward 15 years later, it’s a similar position. His interest has peaked on other jobs but none caught his eye enough to leave the confines of Heights. A place where Richardson has helped built the Falcons into one of the premiere programs in the state. During their most dominant run, the Falcons won five championships in seven seasons.

After having a blood clot and in the hospital on his 18th birthday, you have a lot of time to think. This is pre-smart phone so the time is left to think. He thought about his future and what that entailed. With blood clots and surgeries ending his playing career, a former coach asked Richardson to swing by practice for some preseason conditioning to hang out. That eventually led to him sitting on the bench taking stats for the junior varsity. Little by little, Richardson was being indoctrinated into the coaching fraternity.

The educator part plays a large into his decision making. He sees himself as an educator first and a coach second. Coaching directed him to teaching, while for many it is the other way around.

“I never thought I wanted to coach,” Richardson said. “At the end of the day, coaching directed me to teaching and I love working with kids and being an educator.”

While he’s turned down other potential jobs to stay at Heights and find the right fit. Much like he did 15 years ago when he decided the fit wasn’t to coach but to watch his brother, he knew when it was the right time to make the move.

“I walked in my wife’s office and said ‘Are you okay with me being a head coach?’ She jumped out of the chair and gave me a big hug. She’s more excited than I am I think.”

For now, Richardson will start from what feels like scratch. The assistants resigned when Herrmann did, making it a clean slate for Andover Central basketball. The program has made four straight state championship appearances, including the state title in 2019. Richardson understand the expectations and embraces them.

“Coach Herrmann has offered me any support I need,” Richardson said. “I’m going to use all of the resources, which seem unlimited right now, to make us the best basketball team.”

Carr has given Richardson the ability to hire his own assistants, make this program work the way he feels is best.

“There’s no perfect equation,” Richardson said of his potential philosophy. “There is a mixture of what I’ve at Heights because they’ve been so successful at what they do and some of my own, things I want to instill.”

His offense is going to be as fluid as his roster. Unlike college and AAU/MAYB programs where you can build your roster to fit your system, Richardson understands having the flexibility to adjust as your roster adjusts.

He doesn’t have to worry about that anymore. His drive is going to be much shorter as he was named the head coach of the Andover Central boys last week. His drive to practice will be a few hundred steps.

“I don’t think managing my time to get to practice is going to be as big of an issue anymore,” Richardson said.