Head Coaches Double-Up on BVU Debuts

Two new faces direct the fortunes of the Buena Vista University basketball programs this season. David Wells is a 40-year-old rookie head coach piloting the women’s basketball team. Trevor Johnson, 28, enters his rookie campaign as head coach for the Beavers men’s squad.

While both men landed in Siebens Fieldhouse this season, the routes they took to BVU vary.

Coach David Wells, a native of Lakewood, Colo., opted for track over basketball at Green Mountain High School in Lakewood. He didn’t play high school basketball.

“Our players are disciplined and hardworking, they’re also great students.”

David Wells

Interestingly, he gave collegiate basketball a shot, but suffered a ruptured appendix on the eve of team tryouts for walk-on members of the Metropolitan State University squad in Denver, Colo. He tried out at the University of Northern Colorado the following year, but was cut. He found his way back to Metro and served as a practice player for the women’s team.

He became an assistant coach at Metro State in 2010, serving a team that went 30-3 and reached the Elite 8.

Assistant coaching jobs would follow at Millersville University in Lancaster, Pa., and then back at Metro State. When the BVU position became available last summer, Wells consulted with his wife, Stacy (Schmidt) Wells, who grew up in Storm Lake.

“Our kids had spent a lot of time in Colorado and being close to my parents,” Wells says. “Securing the position at BVU allowed our children to live close to their grandparents from Storm Lake, Keith and Marcia Schmidt.”

Wells says the move from a 20,000-plus student public university to BVU has made the longtime coach a bit uncomfortable at times. “And that’s a good thing,” he says, noting that the move was a faith-based decision for their family. “We coach kids and tell them to get out of their comfort zone and grow. This move for us certainly represents growth.”

Wells says the Beavers will work hard, communicate, and represent their University in a first-class manner. 

“Our players are disciplined and hardworking, they’re also great students,” he says. “That was all in place before I arrived. These women just need to understand how to elevate their performance. And that’s what a coach can do.”

And while David Wells followed the bouncing ball around Colorado and Pennsylvania, Trevor Johnson’s hoops career has been a bit more linear. The Lincoln, Neb., native starred at Lincoln Pius High School before choosing Nebraska Wesleyan University in his hometown, opting for the Prairie Wolves over BVU.

“Coach Brian Van Haaften recruited me to come to BVU,” Johnson says. “I came here and watched a practice 10 years ago as I was trying to decide where to attend college.”

Johnson earned a starting role with Nebraska-Wesleyan for four straight years. The forward finished high on the program’s all-time charts for field goal percentage in a season and a career. He then continued working for the team as a part-time coach and then as an assistant coach while earning his master’s degree through Doane College.

“We all get into basketball when we’re young because it’s so fun. It should still be fun when you’re in college.”

Trevor Johnson

The 2017-18 Prairie Wolves won the NCAA Division III title, going 30-3. The only loss in regulation the team suffered that year came at the hands of the Beavers.

In August 2018, Johnson took a job as an assistant coach at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. After reaching the pinnacle with his alma mater, an offensive force in the sport, Johnson figured it was time to extend himself by traveling across the country to work on the East Coast in a program that featured one of the best defensive units in the game.

“In that sense, I’ve really had the best of both worlds in basketball, coaching in programs that have excelled on both sides of the court,” he says.

Johnson’s arrival at BVU puts him in a position to leave his imprint on a program that’s known throughout the country.

“I wanted to be a head coach at a school that values winning,” he says. “It helps that I’m familiar with BVU and I knew the history of the program and what Coach Van Haaften had accomplished here. I know how tough it was to prepare to play and to coach against the Beavers.”

The BVU men have won nine league titles in the past 22 years. Johnson’s goal is to compete for more championship banners while having fun along the way.

“The expectation is to compete for conference titles,” Johnson says. “But there’s also this expectation to continue to enjoy the sport. We all get into basketball when we’re young because it’s so fun. It should still be fun when you’re in college. That’s one of my goals as a head coach, too, to always keep the enjoyment of basketball in mind.”