WHITEHALL – Nate Aardema joked that it was a ploy by Christian Subdon: Get Aardema away so he can take his job.
In reality, Aardema and Subdon support each other. They’ve been doing it for a long time, so when Subdon was announced on Friday as Aardema’s successor as Whitehall’s chief college basketball coach, no one seemed happier than Aardema, aside from maybe Subdon himself.
On Monday, Aardema accepted the post of head basketball coach at Reeths-Puffer.
“It wasn’t easy when I was in high school (and college). Nate was still there. He was always ready to help me, ”said Subdon, 29, a Whitehall alumnus in 2010, who played basketball for Aardema on college and varsity junior teams. “He was at my wedding. We were friends before, but we’ve done a lot together. It always holds a special place – it always will be.
Subdon has been a JV basketball coach from Whitehall for the past three years under Aardema’s supervision. He is completing his third year as a fourth year teacher in the Whitehall District at Eely Elementary. Prior to that, Subdon coached JV basketball and taught Hart for three years.
Subdon, who also coaches receivers and defensive backs for the Whitehall college football team, guided the Vikings basketball team to a 14-1 record in the 2020-21 season.
Subdon is fully invested in the community of Whitehall and its school district. He and his wife, Sarah (Gould) Subdon, who have a 15 month old daughter, Brighton, are building a new house in the neighborhood.
“Christian has been placed in positions and positions that have allowed him to grow both as a teacher and as a coach. He is absolutely ready to be a varsity coach, ”said Whitehall athletic director Greg Russell. “We were so confident in his ability as a person, as a teacher in our district.
“He’s a former student-athlete, an extremely well-known product. I think it was just the perfect scenario. Things happen for a reason. … Because of our plan, we didn’t have to go out and post it outside and look for more.
Russell noted that the district had a succession plan in place and was comfortable with Subdon taking over from Aardema, so there was no need to bring in external candidates. Subdon interviewed for the position and thanked the school’s administrative team for their efforts in the process.
As a student-athlete at Whitehall, Subdon played soccer and basketball, and participated in track and field. He played football at Hope College.
Aardema and Subdon have developed a close relationship as a coach and player, and that bond has remained strong over the years.
“His path is a bit similar to mine. He graduated from Whitehall and he had enough of a positive experience with athletics there that he kind of wanted to replicate that and do it for other kids, ”said Aardema, 41, who is a Whitehall alumnus in 1998.
“It’s really cool for me to think back to Christian, 15, and see him now as one (29). For me, he has all of his priorities in place. It’s about the kids and your family and about being a good teacher and coach.
In Aardema’s 12 years as Whitehall’s head coach, the Vikings were 154-94 with three West Michigan Conference titles and eight winning seasons.
Whitehall was 13-4 last season, which was compacted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“This neighborhood, I mean, everyone really shaped who I am. It’s funny because we always said how we wanted to get out of here, it’s such a small town.
“When I knew I was going to be a teacher, I always wanted to come back here. There weren’t any openings (when he graduated from Hope) and then something opened up. It was the perfect storm. The JV coach wanted to leave, so I kind of intervened. It’s a really surreal feeling, for sure. Nate was my coach and I learned a lot from him and he did a lot for me and the people around Whitehall. It’s really cool to give back. “
Reeths-Puffer hires Nate Aardema as boys basketball coach