PDT Sports Writer
When someone is essentially raised in the basketball gym of their high school alma mater, destiny has a way of placing that person as the next leader.
That’s the case for Ryan Fenton, a 2007 graduate of South Webster and a member of the 2005-2006 state championship team, as he was hired during last month’s board of education meeting to replace Steven Ater as boys basketball coach and assume his first high school varsity head coaching position.
“I remember being a little boy and watching every great player during my lifetime come through and just even be thankful to have the opportunity to coach kids and to coach kids in this community especially is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Fenton said. “I’ve said for years, even before I went to college, this is my dream job and I was going to go to college to prepare myself for this opportunity. The opportunity came and I’m just very fortunate to have it.”
The Jeeps are coming off a regional finalist appearance from last season and will look to replace the void left by five seniors. With this being his first head coaching job, Fenton feels that void has made things easier in the transition phase.
“It’s a better feeling,” Fenton said. “I think for me, just knowing some of the people in the community. They may not know what I’m capable of from a head coaching standpoint, but they know what I’m capable of with my involvement in the community in terms of being in the schools the last two years.”
South Webster Athletic Director Brett Roberts, who said more than a dozen applicants applied and Fenton was the selection from three finalists, felt someone who has been in the program as a player and as an assistant was the right decision.
“We decided that we felt like in Ryan, even though he’s young and doesn’t have any head coaching experience, we felt like he had the energy, the commitment and the personality to coach our kids and try to continue on the success that we’ve had,” Roberts said.
Fenton credits the coaching staff during his younger years — which included Marc Kreischer, Jeff Bradley and Brenton Cole — for what they did for him as a person on and off the court. After graduating from The Ohio State University in 2011 with a degree in education, Fenton passed on some other openings with the thought of building himself up through the ranks where he grew up.
One of his most memorable events came in 2006 when the Jeeps won the Division IV State Championship. For a brief moment, he was savoring every moment that came with the championship but also realized the program was going to lose key players such as Brigham Waginger and Nick Aldridge.
“That was probably the real turning point to where in my senior year, I really listened even more so than ever,” Fenton said.
South Webster opens the season Nov. 30 at North Adams. Fenton will square off against his predecessor, who left last month to take the same position at Wheelersburg, Dec. 17 at South Webster.
Cody Leist can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking sports news, follow Cody on Twitter @CodyLeist.