He took over the reins at Mannum Football Club (MFC) in 2019 and in two short years, he's now the South Australian AFL Senior Coach of the year.
Wayne Knowles re-energised his side and they bought into his system. Before he was teaching the ways of the game, he was trying to forge his own path in it.
Related: Blake wins Mail Medal
"It was the injuries that led me to get into coaching," Knowles said.
"I did my knee for the third time in 2006 and that started the ball rolling into the coaching world.
"I played in Adelaide. All my junior football was at Ingle Farm Football Club. I played a bit at Two Wells, Snowtown and a bit in Broken Hill."
Joining MFC in 2019, Knowles integrated into the club culture quickly and both grew and brought out the best in one another.
"I've absolutely loved my time at Mannum," Knowles said.
"I also really also enjoyed my time in the River Murray Football League. It's a really welcoming league, with a great standard. It's been an absolute pleasure to be a part of the league and the Mannum Football Club."
Winning the South Australian AFL Senior Coach of the year was the furthest thing in Knowles' mind.
"I didn't know I was nominated, which came to a massive surprise to me," Knowles said.
"So thank you Michelle Hill for nominating me. But, it's an amazing feeling. It's very humbling. I'm very proud to have won it. I've put a lot of time and effort into my coaching.
"I did a lot of studying and got my level three accreditation in coaching. The pandemic really hampered that making a 12 month course two years. That was quite taxing, but SANFL coaching director, Dave Reynolds has been amazing for me."
MFC's younger players tapped into Knowles' teaching prowess and he loved seeing them progress in whatever they were doing.
"I loved seeing the development with the young blokes at the club as they mature into men," Knowles said.
"Seeing them grow on and off the field. They're like sponges. They just want to learn and be better. I was so proud of Blake Tabe winning the Mail Medal. Blake was just a kid when I arrived at Mannum, to see how he's developed, it's mind blowing.
"We were very young in 2019. Had a lot of players leave after losing the grand final in the 18s when I took over.
"They've all grown so much since then on the field, but also in life and that's amazing to see."
The award comes a little bitter sweet. Knowles has stepped down as head coach and will be moving to a position closer to his home in Adelaide.
"I'm going to coach Woodville South Football Club," Knowles said.
"It's closer to home. I'm really excited about the opportunity. I've loved my time at Mannum. I said if we could move the Mannum footy club 50km closer to Adelaide, it'd be a no-brainer to stay. But, travelling with work, a young family, I'm just tired.
"We didn't get the ultimate grand final success at Mannum, but the group is really set up for sustainable success for the next 10 years."