Trojan Coach Wes Flanigan returns to the Capital City and embraces the endless possibilities by asking, “Why Not Us?”
By KD Reep | Photography by Dero Sanford
Spend just a few minutes with Wes Flanigan, and you’ll never be a stranger again. With an easy smile, warm demeanor and the manners of a true gentleman, Wes makes you feel right at home. And after serving as associate head coach for the record-setting 2015-2016 season, he returns as the head coach for the men’s basketball team at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
A Little Rock native, Wes began his basketball career at Parkview High School where his father, Al, still coaches. He attended Auburn University and was honored as an All-SEC player in 1996 and was the university’s top student-athlete in 1997. With a degree in Health Promotion, Wes pursued a career in coaching at Mississippi State, University of Nebraska at Lincoln and University of Alabama at Birmingham. He attributes these professional adventures to youth and yearning to explore what the world had to offer. However, his love and loyalty to Little Rock remained steadfast, in fact, UALR was one of his top choices of universities where he wanted to play as a student-athlete. He says coaching for and, ultimately, becoming the head coach of the Trojan men’s basketball team is his dream come true.
“Little Rock is a special place,” Wes notes. “We are a great community, and have so much to offer. This university is a gem to both this city and our state. My goal is to make UALR and our basketball team Little Rock’s team. We can make our team and community nationally recognized.”
Critical to this vision for UALR, he explains, is a roster full of players from Arkansas. “We have a lot of capable, talented kids who get overlooked,” Wes says. “By recruiting and coaching local talent, we will build a sense of loyalty in our program, university, community and state.”
“Wes Flanigan is a great fit for our program,” says Director of Athletics Chasse Conque. “He was a major part of our team’s success this past season and has done an excellent job in the transition. Wes has prepared himself for this role, and we share a vision for the future of Little Rock Trojan basketball.”
This philosophy is one that SpectacUALR, hosted by UALR’s Department of Athletics each year, shares. SpectacUALR is a business casual event that friends and alumni of UALR have enjoyed for almost a decade. The evening, presented by Triple-S Alarm Company, will honor Marilyn and Greg Brown, UALR alumni and benefactors of the athletic program. Proceeds provide scholarships to the kind of student-athletes Wes is working to recruit and make campus improvements possible that improve the infrastructure of the university and community.
“I want people in Little Rock to change our thinking,” Wes explains. “Instead of ‘Why us?’ I want us to start saying, ‘Why Not Us?’. It took someone like Coach Chris Beard to show people what Little Rock can truly be.”
Wes firmly believes that greatness already resides in Little Rock and in Arkansas. “We don’t have to look outside of ourselves for that,” he says. “During the Sun Belt Conference, we were standing for the national anthem. The Jack Stephens Center is such an intimate setting that when I looked around, I saw familiar and friendly faces – I got choked up. I always wanted to be a better coach than my dad, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be, but if I become even half the man he is, I would positively impact our community, and that would be gratifying.”