Life doesn’t always go as planned.
At 40 years old, Tyler Morris can tell you that – in person.
From teaching elementary school students in Nebraska, to coaching high school students in Minnesota, to whipping up homemade pizzas in Iowa, to coaching at the collegiate level in Wisconsin and now in Goshen, Morris has done it all.
On Nov. 2, Morris stepped into the assistant coach role for the Goshen College women’s basketball team, just five days before the team’s first game of the 2020-21 season.
Morris had five days to work alongside Stephanie Miller, the head coach, getting quick tutorials on her coaching philosophy, her coaching style and her offensive and defensive preferences.
He also had five days to study the strengths and weaknesses of each player, their personalities and, more broadly, how life works here at Goshen College.
“I feel like I am ‘behind’ a little bit, so I don’t love that,” Morris said. “I am just trying to pick up on as much as I can, as quickly as I can.”
Nonetheless, Morris is eager for the opportunity and the challenge at hand.
What excites him the most?
Coaching at the NAIA level, he said, on the women’s side, in the most competitive league, in the state of Indiana – the pinnacle of basketball at that.
After graduating from the University of Northern Iowa in 2004, Morris decided to begin his career teaching at the third, fifth and sixth grade levels at Elk Horn-Kimballton High School and Avoca Hancock Shelby Tennant Walnut High School, both in Iowa.
During this time period, he also spent 13 years coaching both high school varsity boys and girls.
One of his stops was at Ellsworth High School in Ellsworth, Minnesota, where he had a lot of success, winning 80 games in three seasons before he called it quits.
But college coaching was still calling his name.
Central College, a Division III school in Pella, Iowa, offered Morris a coaching job in 2013; however, with three young children at home, he decided to put his dream on hold after the season.
Almost by accident, Morris found himself as the owner and operator of an Italian restaurant in Elk Horn, Iowa: The Flour Mill.
“I was looking for a job, and my sister-in-law’s fiance was too,” he said.
“The old bakery in town was for sale, and my wife joked that we should buy it and open a restaurant. My in-laws ended up buying the building and renting it to us, and we opened The Flour Mill a few months later.”
This lasted for five years, but his passion basketball would not vanish.
Once Morris’ kids had grown up and he had his wife’s blessing to pursue his dream of coaching at the collegiate level again, they quickly relocated to Marinette, Wisconsin in 2019.
At the University of Wisconsin Green Bay-Marinette, a two-year community college, Morris served as the athletic director, food service lead and head women’s basketball coach.
Morris found out that the school planned to cancel all athletics for the upcoming season and also cut his other two positions, due to COVID-19.
“With our lease being up at the end of July, and no guarantee that things would be back to normal for the 2021-22 school year, we made the decision to leave,” he said.
Morris has overcome the trials and tribulations of life: putting his family’s needs before his own desires, relocating across the Midwest, navigating a global pandemic and constantly being tested mentally.
“I am most excited about getting to know the players here at Goshen,” he said. “That’s always the fun part about coaching.”
Miller had nothing but praise for her new right-hand man after his first week on the job.
“What stands out to me the most is his passion for the sport, his willingness to help at any time, and his desire to learn the players so that he can jump right in and make a quality impact on their basketball and in their lives,” Miller said.
With the late hire and the season quickly approaching, Morris was forced to pack his bags and leave his family behind.
His family is staying in Iowa until after Christmas.
Morris is currently staying in one of the college-owned houses on College Avenue while house hunting.
“I miss my family for sure but we know being apart is only temporary,” Miller said.
“We will see each other at Thanksgiving, and we will video chat a lot in the meantime.”