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story.lead_photo.caption Craig Engelbrecht will be back on the bench next basketball season as the head coach for the School of the Osage Indians. Photo by Greg Jackson / News Tribune.

It hadn't been a typical retirement for Craig Engelbrecht.

When the MBCA Hall of Fame coach stepped down as the Eugene boys basketball coach in March, his house was in the middle of a remodeling. With the coronavirus pandemic, he hasn't been able to do much else.

"When you have a lot of time to sit around and you have a lot of time to think, it started to dawn on me that maybe I wasn't through coaching," Engelbrecht said. "I thought, 'Boy, when it gets to be winter time, what am I going to do?' I thought I'll surely find something to occupy my time."

Engelbrecht was cleaning his garage when he received a phone call. It was School of the Osage High School, and it was looking for a boys basketball head coach.

Retirement over.

Less than two months into his retirement, Engelbrecht was introduced Monday as the Indians' new boys basketball head coach.

"It's hard to put into words those relationships you build with your teams," Engelbrecht said. "I started thinking about that, what it's like being the first time without a team.

"My wife gave me her blessing and said, 'If you want to continue to do it, go for it.'"

Engelbrecht takes over at Osage for Aaron Shockley, who stepped down after two seasons with the Indians to take a job in Noble, Okla.

"This decision was not easy for me to make as I have loved my past two years at Osage and felt like we have started building something very special," Shockley wrote on Twitter. "But I had to do what is best for my family, and that is being closer to family!"

Engelbrecht comes to Osage with 33 years of head-coaching experience in basketball. He was the Russellville girls basketball coach from 1984-87 and returned to his alma mater at Eugene as boys basketball head coach from 1990-2020.

He has a career record of 573-315.

"I think it's going to be a good thing to start a new chapter of my life," Engelbrecht said. " At Eugene, I built a program, and after a while, it kind of runs itself as kids come through and know what to expect. This is totally new, where I'll be going to a whole new area, a new school, having to learn about new people, new kids.

"It's the challenge of stepping outside my comfort zone and trying something different."

The schedule from Eugene to Osage will change some, but not too much. The Eagles and the Indians had five common opponents last season — Blair Oaks, Eldon, Hallsville, Iberia and Versailles — and they played each other twice, with Eugene winning both games.

Engelbrecht will also be changing conferences from the Show-Me to the Tri-County.

"Familiarity with the area helps," Engelbrecht said.

One of the first things Engelbrecht did when he was hired was to learn who would be returning players on the Indians' roster. After that, it will be trying to find a way to get in touch with his players, which presents a challenge for Engelbrecht during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Maybe we'll be able to start doing some conditioning in June," Engelbrecht said. " Technology is going to play a huge part, which is not hard for the kids. It's probably harder for people like me to get used to."

Osage also announced Monday that Jeff Hinshaw was hired as Engelbrecht's assistant coach. Hinshaw served as an assistant coach last season at Talladega College in Alabama and graduated from Rolla High School.

"I coached against his father, Kelly Hinshaw, when he had those really exciting teams at Osage," Engelbrecht said. "I'm excited because Jeff has a lot of college experience, so that will be something to draw upon, which I think is really going to help our program."

John Baumstark will remain on the Indians' coaching staff as an assistant coach.

"I've always been a mind to try to build something and stay with it," Engelbrecht said. "Coach Shockley has laid a foundation there, and we just need to build upon that and keep it going."

Engelbrecht leaves behind a Eugene program that finished 20-7 last season and reached the Class 2 quarterfinals. Ethan Shackelford was announced last month as Engelbrecht's successor with the Eagles.

"I hope the best for the kids I left behind and the groups coming in," Engelbrecht said.

Engelbrecht said he and his wife, Kelli, will continue to live in Eugene.

But along with his home remodeling, Engelbrecht is going to need a closet makeover to add more shirts to go with the Indians' school colors.

"When I went down and spoke to them about the job, I wore the only thing that looked remotely close to maroon that was in my closet," Engelbrecht said.

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