ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — After four successful high school seasons, the next logical step is to move on to the college game.
Following four years and over 50 as head coach of the Meigs boys basketball team, Ed Fry turned in his resignation on Thursday and will head to Rio Grande to be an assistant coach.
In four seasons under Fry, the Marauders compiled a 52-40 record, including double-digit wins in each campaign. Fry led the Maroon and Gold to back-to-back winning season in the middle of his stint, the first time Meigs had achieved that feat since the 1980s.
“The thrill in coaching for me is to go into a program that hasn’t been successful, and turn it around,” Fry said. “This was a challenge. There are a lot of similarities in programs that haven’t been winning, and so several years ago I kind of came up with a formula. You have to change the culture a little bit and raise the bar as far as expectations, we did that.
“We came in and stressed work ethic. If you demonstrate good work ethic, you develop the skills you need to and you’re going to play no matter who you are, or where you come from.”
After a 10 wins in his first year, Fry led the Maroon and Gold to an 18-5 record in his second season, the program’s first 18-win season since 1986-87. Following year No. 2, Fry represented MHS as the Ohio head coach in the BACF all-star game.
In Fry’s third season, the Marauders went 14-9 and finished tied for second in the Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division. The second place mark was Meigs’ best league finish since the 2010-11 season, with the nine league wins being the most by an MHS team in over a decade.
Fry was named OVP 12 boys basketball Coach of the Year in his third season. Perhaps the highlight of the Marauders’ run was winning the ‘King of the Smokies’ tournament in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
“To my knowledge, that’s really the only tournament that Meigs has really gone out of state to,” Fry said. “That was a big turning point in that season, we went down an played against some tough competition and we gelled as a team. We had gotten off to a rough start because of injuries and things, and that really jump started our season.”
This past season, Meigs started with nine straight setbacks and lost three players off of its orginal roster in that time. Armed with a quartet of juniors, a trio of sophomores and one freshman, Fry rallied the troops and finished the year with 10 wins in the last 15 games.
“They finished so strong,” Fry said. “Everyone of these kids has a good work ethic and they really apply themselves in the offseason. They’re a good core group, then you have young ones coming in that will help with numbers. Our numbers got a little low this year, because of attrition.”
In addition to their success on the court, the Marauders have also excelled in the classroom.
“I’m really proud of our academic record,” Fry said. “I can’t take a lot of credit for it, the kids do that, but we support and encourage that. As coaches we’ve had two academic All-Ohioans. Two years ago we were second in the entire state, regardless of class, in a number of gold and silver certificates for a 3.2 GPA-or-higher.”
Between the lines, the calling card for the Marauders in the last four seasons has been defense. The number on that card was 1-3-1.
“For 30 years I was a man-to-man coach,” Fry said. “When I came here, I looked around and saw what the other teams were doing and I wanted something unique, something that would give us an identity and something that would cause other coaches to spend a lot of time on preparation. We needed all the edges we could find and the personnel fit it well.”
The thing Fry said he’ll miss most about the high school game is working with the kids.
“We have a terrific bunch of young men here,” Fry said. “They were so much fun to go into practice everyday with, because they’re eager to learn. Just watching how they developed over the course of a very rough season, showed their grit and determination. I consider myself a teacher of the game, so coming in every day and being able to teach from the basics on up was a terrific experience.”
Also leaving the MHS program after four years as Fry’s assistant coach is Paul Jewell.
“He has been so loyal to me,” Fry said. “Going into this year I had zero assistant coaches, Coach Jewell wasn’t going to coach. He saw the situation and said ‘I can’t do that’. He cares a lot for the kids and he’s very loyal to me, so he came back this year and coached.”
Fry brings 36 years of coaching experience to Rio Grande, with three of those seasons coming at the college level, at Ohio University-Southern. At OU-S, a non-scholarship program, Fry was an assistant coach for two seasons and a head coach for one year.
“It’s a different ball game,” Fry said. “There you’re talking about basketball without distractions.”
Fry — who has worked as part of Rio Grande’s summer basketball camp — is looking forward to working with RedStorm head coach Ken French again.
“Coach French and I go back a long, long way,” Fry said. “I gave him his first paid coaching gig at Huntington St. Joe, he was my assistant coach. He went on from there to Tusculum and then to Rio Grande. Over the years I went on recruiting trips with him occasionally, and learned a lot in that time. He helped me a lot when he was my assistant coach, so hopefully I can return the favor.”
At Rio Grande, Fry will be working on fine-tuning the post players, as well as working with the team in the weight room and recruiting throughout Southeast Ohio. The RedStorm went 10-20 on the court this season.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.