By BRIAN CUNNIFF
Wildwood Catholic Academy has its next boys basketball coach.
Will Wareham, a 1996 graduate of Lower Cape May Regional who most recently had been an assistant men’s basketball coach at Division II Holy Family University, is taking over the post, Wildwood Catholic’s athletic department announced this week.
Wareham is replacing Anthony Raffa, who was relieved of his duties by the school last week after one season.
Wareham spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Holy Family. Prior to that stint, he was the head men’s coach for one season at Rowan College at Gloucester, leading the Roadrunners to a 28-4 record and a junior college national ranking in 2018-19. Wareham was also previously the head coach at Cumberland County College for three seasons, leading the program to three consecutive Region XIX Tournament appearances, including a region title game appearance.
“The biggest thing for me, I really wanted to get back to being a head coach,” Wareham said in a telephone interview. “In my time at Holy Family, I learned a lot of different stuff from the whole staff. I wanted to coach at the scholarship level and I got the chance to do it and it was great. But at the end of day I just felt like I was ready to be a head coach again.”
Wareham’s first college basketball coaching experience came at Division III Gwynedd-Mercy University, where he spent five seasons as an assistant under head coach John Baron, a North Wildwood summer resident.
Wareham also has high school coaching experience in this area, beginning his coaching career as an assistant coach under Bob Ridgway at Cape May Tech.
“Coaching in Philly the last three years, I got to know how prominent and how special the Philadelphia Catholic League is and there are a lot of similarities with the Cape-Atlantic League because it’s a tight-knit basketball community,” Warehman said. “And then even just Cape May County basketball, that’s special on its own. Basketball is the main sport down here. And then Wildwood Catholic being a part of that, they’ve had a special program for a long time.”
A graduate of Post University and a resident of the Vineland area, Wareham has more than 20 years of total service with the New Jersey Army National Guard, spending 12 years as a military recruiter. He served in Iraq in 2003 and 2004.
Wildwood Catholic finished 10-13 last season with a roster that featured no seniors. The program is only a couple of years removed from being one of the best in the region. The Crusaders won a South Jersey title in 2020 and three straight CAL playoff tournament championships from 2018 through 2020 under longtime coach Dave DeWeese, who stepped down after the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season.
“Anytime there’s turnover with a head coaching position, you can anticipate that there could be some turnover with the roster, so my immediate goal has been to reach out to the current players and convince them that, hey, everything’s going to be OK here and to remove any doubt in their minds about what might be going on in the program,” Wareham said.
“I want to try to give them the best possible basketball experience they can get and let them make some great memories. I don’t know if wins and losses are going to define what makes a great year. I want to go in and coach them as hard as possible and use a lot of the stuff I’ve learned at the collegiate level and help these kids progress, whether that’s as a basketball player, a young man, a student or whatever it might be. I want to be influential in younger kids’ lives and I’m happy that I’m now in that leadership role and I can be a big part of kids’ lives going forward.”