Ryan Smith felt the opportunities as an assistant coach over four years, particularly this past season, had prepared him for handling his own varsity program.
Smith, 26, was officially hired by the District 155 school board at its meeting Tuesday night to teach math and become the third boys basketball coach in Prairie Ridge’s 21-year history.
Smith, a 2010 Larkin graduate, takes over for Corky Card, who had coached the Wolves for 16 seasons. Card lost his physical education teaching position as part of the district’s reduction in force and recently took a teaching and boys basketball coaching job at Dunlap.
“I’m young, and I’m eager to learn,” said Smith, who will be 26 on Friday. “I do a pretty good job of building relationships with kids. I have a passion for the game of basketball, and I just want to get kids out to enjoy the game and compete and help them get to that next level.”
Smith attended Illinois Wesleyan and played one season of golf there. He graduated and was hired as coach and teacher at Streamwood. He was a sophomore assistant for one season, head sophomore coach for two and assistant varsity coach last season under Sabres head coach Paul Kowalyszyn.
When Kowalyszyn and his wife had a baby in October, he often delegated some of the head coaching duties to Smith.
“I got a lot of experience with the administrative side of running a program, fundraising, creating expectations, creating daily practice plans,” Smith said. “(Kowalyszyn) knew my ultimate goal was to be a head coach. So he really did a great job mentoring me and gave me the opportunities that I needed. That was a huge help for me.”
McHenry hired Chris Madson as head coach last year when he was 26. Smith also has coached in AAU in the offseason with Elgin-based Epic Hoops. He and his wife, Kylie, live in Elgin.