High school girls basketball

Longtime Panther assistant McNelly tabbed as varsity coach

McNelly replaces veteran coach Randy Hooper
By Mark Haskell | Jun 14, 2016
Photo by: Mark Haskell Ryan McNelly is the new Medomak Valley High School girls varsity basketball coach. He replaces veteran Panther mentor Randy Hooper in that post.

Waldoboro — Medomak Valley High School athletic director Matt Lash did not have to look far to find a new Panther girls varsity basketball coach. In fact, he found one within the school’s walls.

Ryan McNelly, who has taught science at the school for 10 years, has been hired to take the post, vacated by Randy Hooper, who guided the Panthers 11 seasons before stepping down at the conclusion of the 2015-16 season.

The 34-year-old McNelly gradated from Coastal Christian School in Waldoboro in 2000 and went to Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Mass. for a year before transferring to the University of Maine in Orono, where he received a degree in wildlife ecology and a minor in secondary education.

For the past nine years, McNelly has been part of the Panther boys basketball program, with seven years as the school’s freshman coach and the last two as the school’s junior varsity coach.

Prior to that, McNelly spent one year as the varsity basketball coach for Coastal Christian.

"Ryan has been a key piece to a very successful program over the last nine years as the boys freshman and jayvee coach," said Lash. "That experience, including the many postseason appearances, is invaluable to any new varsity coach. He has a strong work ethic, a passion for coaching, and connects with his athletes — many of the same qualities he has as a science teacher at Medomak Valley. He is an asset to the school and athletic program."

“I’m ecstatic,” said McNelly of the opportunity. “It’s a great group of kids coming up. There’s not a lot of upperclassmen, but there’s upperclassmen with experience. I think it’s a great time in the program to try new things and see where we can go.”

In terms of trying new things, McNelly expanded on that point in that he wants his student-athletes to “get out and run,” a philosophy he believes in and which was nurtured during his years in the boys program. He added that when he played basketball at Coastal Christian, “that’s how we made our living.”

“We’d just go off the defense and running and gunning and trapping and pressing and getting offense off defense,” said McNelly. “And [Panther boys varsity coach] Nick [DePatsy] is the same way. I’ve learned a lot from him and that’s kind of where I want to go with it.”

DePatsy and Lash urged McNelly to apply for the girls hoop post.

“I talked to Nick and said, ‘I don’t know’ and then Matt came and talked to me and said, ‘You really should apply, this would be a good thing for you,’ ” he said. “So I talked to my wife and my kids and after a month or two of praying and soul-searching I decided to apply.”

"Ryan is very excited for this opportunity and I know he will work hard to build his program," said Lash. "I am eager to see him move forward with the ideas he has shared with me."

"I think he is perfect for the job," said DePatsy. "He will work hard [and] the girls will enjoy playing for him because he has a great deal of enthusiasm."

McNelly already is gearing up for summer basketball camps/clinics and ready to “hit the ground running.”

McNelly resides in Waldoboro with his wife, Jasmine, and two children, ages 6 and 4.

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