CENTENARY, Ohio — The Blue Angels have a new leader.
At a recent meeting, the Gallipolis City School District Board of Education approved the hire of Jordan Deel as the next varsity girls basketball coach.
“I’m very excited,” Deel said. “I have to thank the district for allowing me to take the position here. I’m very privileged to be a part of this district.”
Deel is replacing Joe Justice, who in five seasons with the Blue Angels recorded a 49-68 overall record, with a pair of players joining the 1,000-point club.
“Coach Justice did an excellent job of having the girls here working hard and getting better,” Deel said. “That’s something that I want to continue. We may have some different beliefs when it comes to offense and defense, but overall, Coach Justice left the program in a solid state. Beyond that, he left it with quite a lot of athletes, a lot of girls that can play right now, and a lot of returnees that have experience at the varsity level. It’s really nice for me to step into a position like that.”
GAHS had just one senior graduate from last season’s 10-13 squad, which was the No. 4 seed in the Division II postseason, but was ousted in the sectional semifinal by Fairfield Union. Last winter marked the second straight campaign in which the Blue Angels reached double-digit wins.
“They had some athletes and they were fun to watch,” Deel said of the 2017-18 Blue Angels’ squad. “We have some girls with some high basketball IQs, so I’m looking forward to coaching them. I think it’ll go smoothly when I try to install the rest of our offenses.”
Gallia Academy Athletic Director Adam Clark hopes that hiring Deel will keep the program moving in the right direction.
“I would like to see Coach Deel continue to grow the program’s numbers, as Coach Justice has done over the past couple years,” Clark said. “Gallia Academy has several athletes that can help the girls basketball program, we just need to get them involved and to be part of the program. This has to start with the youth and middle school teams.”
Deel — who ran a successful youth camp for around 50 players earlier in June — shares Clark’s belief for the future of Gallia Academy girls basketball, and has already made efforts this offseason to make the Blue Angels a success for years to come.
“We’ve had some younger girls show up, and I’ve thrown them in the fire so to speak,” Deel said. “I want these girls coming in to get a feel for the game at a high school level, which is a lot faster.”
Deel — a 2009 graduate from River Valley High School and a 2014 graduate of Ohio University — spent four years as an assistant football coach for the Blue Devils, beginning in 2013.
On the hardwood, Deel coached the GAHS freshman boys basketball team to a 10-5 record in the 2016-17 season, and then led junior varsity Blue Devils to a 18-4 mark last winter.
With August as the no-contact period, Deel is hoping the rest of the offseason will have the Blue Angels as ready as possible by the time the first practice rolls around in late October.
“I want the girls to get a feel for me as a coach, a feel for our basic offense and a feel for our defensive philosophy,” Deel said. “I like to run man-to-man defense, it’s difficult to do, but it can be very aggressive at times and that’s what I enjoy about it. There’s a lot of work to be done, but we have high expectations. These girls buy in, that’s one thing that they do. When we present them with something, we get right to the point, and they really run with it.”
Among early goals for the GAHS girls basketball team are winning their first-ever Ohio Valley Conference championship, as well as a return to the district tournament for the first time since 2006.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.