MARIETTA — Ryan McClain was named the new Marietta High girls basketball head coach on May 19.
Though it’s only been a few weeks since he landed the job, McClain already likes what he sees from his young Tigers.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “This is a good, young group that is hungry to show people they can play.”
The Tigers recently went 7-0 in a shootout at Steubenville, where McClain implemented an aggressive defensive attack.
“I love Bob Huggins basketball,” he laughed, referring to West Virginia’s men’s basketball coach. “We will press you and keep pressing you and keep pressing you. They’ve really caught on and I’m impressed with the tenacity they’ve shown.”
McClain previously coached at Benjamin Logan High School in Bellfontaine and was named the 2022 Division II District 9 Coach of the Year after helping the Raiders go from three wins in 2020-21 to 15 in 2021-22.
“Coach McClain has an incredible presence and energy to him,” said Cody Venderlic, the MHS athletic director. “He is a culture-first type of coach with plans to build not just a varsity team, but a whole girls basketball program that focuses on respect, hard work, grit and integrity.”
McClain was selected by Marietta’s interview team which consisted of Venderlic, Marietta College men’s basketball coach Jon VanderWal, West Liberty men’s basketball coach Ben Howlett, MHS principal Chad Rinard, MHS track coach Mollie Schramm, MHS football coach Jason Schob and former MHS basketball coaches Ron Warner and JD Secrest. Marietta College women’s basketball coach Kole Vivian was also consulted.
“I want to thank the players, parents and administration for this opportunity,” McClain said. “They’ve been fantastic in welcoming me. It’s been a nice transition. To get this job was a privilege.”
McClain actually played college football at Muskingum and later played arena football. He got his first coaching job thanks to his father-in-law, Dan Linscott.
“He said, ‘I’ll pay you $500 to coach an eighth grade girls team,'” McClain recalled. “At that time I thought that was a lot of money. I learned and fell in love with it.”
McClain then took assistant coaching jobs at Fairbanks and Jonathan Alder before becoming the head coach for Benjamin Logan. The Raiders set records in defensive efficiency with McClain at the helm as well as the school’s single-season record for made 3-pointers.
“I like to let it rip, but that can be a layup or a 3-pointer,” he said. “Sometimes you’ve got to take those 3s to open up the offense. It’s really what the defense gives us.”
McClain feels he has the right combination of players at Marietta to run the type of offensive and defensive systems he likes.
“It’s a very young core,” he said. “There’s a good group of sophomores who have experience at the varsity level. There’s a nice upperclassman group with Riley Medley and Rylee Kendall, and another nice junior group. You have a nice mix of young and old.”
Medley, Kendall, Julia Tucker, Saylor Wharff, Maddie Hogue, Alyssa Baker, Leigha Lauer and Jacey McKnight all played key roles for the last year’s Tigers team, which had no seniors.
McClain wants to build a team that, when opponents leave the gym, “they don’t want to see us again. Secondly, that we play a tough brand of basketball. Lastly, we’re classy at it and good sports about. That’s what I want them saying when they leave, that we were a good reflection of the Marietta community and the school district.”
McClain and his wife, Morgan, have two children — Crosbee and Rooney.
Jordan Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.