Western Nebraska Community College has hired Roybell Baez as the new head men’s basketball coach.
Baez is taking over for Billy Engel, who stepped down earlier this month.
Baez is no stranger to Cougar basketball as he was the assistant coach from 2016-2020 under Cory Fehringer, helping the Cougar men win a Region IX title in 2018.
“Coming back to WNCC means everything to me,” Baez said. “It’s where I started my coaching career, it’s where I met my wife, it’s where my brother played baseball, and it’s where I won my first title as a coach. Being named the head coach is just a bonus honestly. Coming back and being the head coach was always a dream of mine and now it’s actually happening.”
WNCC athletic director Ryan Burgner is excited to have Baez as the head coach.
“We are excited to have Roybell back in the family and excited for the future of men’s basketball,” Burgner said.
Baez played basketball at Dakota College at Bottineau in North Dakota and then Dickinson State, also in North Dakota. After his playing days, Baez rejoined Fehringer at WNCC, who was his coach at Dakota College.
He then spent a year at Laramie County Community College as an assistant before moving on to the same position at Cowley College in Kansas. He spent the past three seasons there, helping lead last year’s team to the Sweet 16 of the NJCAA national tournament with a 28-6 record.
“I’ve learned a lot of from all three of the head coaches I’ve worked for,” Baez said. “While all three are very different, they all shared the same vision of winning with good kids and making sure we did things the right way. I honestly wouldn’t be in this position without Cory Fehringer taking me to WNCC eight years ago, and I learned so much from him on and off the floor. Coach Saulsberry also taught me a lot in the one year I was at LCCC and I will forever be grateful for him. And, last but not least, Coach Donnie Jackson has taught me so many things and these last three seasons at Cowley have been huge for my growth not only as a coach but as a person. Cowley will forever be a special place for me and my family.”
His goals at WNCC are simple – he wants to keep going back to the national tournament like he has done twice in the past six years.
“My goals coming in to WNCC are very simple – recruit good kids who are good at basketball,” he said. “We are going to be very involved in the community and we’re going to graduate. I have a vision of what a great program looks and acts like and to me it starts with the players. We are going to hold everyone accountable and tell the truth. We’re going to love them and be there for them as well.”
With all the experience he has gained from the three coaches he has coached under, he has the ingredients to lead on the court and keep a winning tradition at WNCC.
“My philosophy as coach is also going to be simple – we’re going to play fast, share the ball, and play the right way,” he said. “On defense, we’re going to pressure the ball and keep people out of the paint. We will also press and play multiple defenses. And the biggest thing I’m going to stress to our guys is being a great teammate. Coach Fehringer always taught us that great teammates have great teammates and that’s going to be the message from day one.”
Baez, a native of Miami, is married to Ellie and together, share three girls, Brooklyn, Braylee, and Nyah. Baez’ brother, Harold, is a Scottsbluff High graduate and played baseball for the Cougars.