The old saying goes that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and when it comes to the coaching tree branching out from Ravenswood High School these days, that certainly seems to be the case.
Ben Pannell (Sissonville), Taylor Woods (Riverside) and Brett Rector (Parkersburg South) have all been hired to boys basketball head coaching positions over the past few months and that’s far from the only thing they have in common.
All of them played at Ravenswood under coach Mick Price, who is entering his 42nd season with the Red Devils this year.
Price’s teams have certainly had their fair share of success over that time, including Class AA state championships in 2006 and 2009, but wins and X’s and O’s aren’t the things the trio of new coaches are most taking away from their playing careers with the Red Devils.
“The fact that any of us can pick up the phone at any time and give him a call plays more into it than anything,” Woods said of Price. “I knew I wanted to be a coach in high school and I’m pretty sure he knew I wanted to be a coach in high school. But he always told me, ‘They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’ I say that to my kids all the time. Even me as a teacher, if you’re on of my kids, you can reach out to me anytime and that comes from him.”
“My dad was Mick’s assistant for a long time and all of those guys, those were my heroes,” Rector said. “All the people that played for him, he’s like a father figure to us and that’s the thing I stick with most. I always felt like he believed in me. He was always there when I needed him. That kind of stuff is more important than X’s and O’s.”
All of them, when first asked about the dynamic, listed the family dynamic of Ravenswood’s program first, including Price.
“When kids play in our program I want them to talk about the family life within our program and that’s something I tried to instill from day one when I got to Ravenswood 41 years ago,” Price said. “I want kids who play for us to be able to come back. I’m extremely proud of them as if they were my own sons, but I’m just as proud of all the guys that have gone on in business or industry or whatever they’ve done.”
Brett Rector’s father Tim, a longtime assistant under Price, will serve as an assistant at Parkersburg South now, giving Brett Rector an invaluable source of knowledge at his disposal.
As for Pannell at Sissonville, he inherits a program that won just four games a year ago. He will begin the process of trying to engineer a turnaround, something Price has done more than once in his long tenure with the Red Devils.
Pannell said trying to adopt his former coach’s ability to get a community and the fans involved is something also at the top of his list.
“A lot about how to get big crowds and to get the community excited and passionate about the program,” Pannell said. “There were years that weren’t very good and I’ve talked to him about how to get people excited about the program and how to turn situations that maybe aren’t great into great situations. They went from four, five or six wins his first year to the state tournament.”
Also in the Ravenswood coaching tree is Jason White, the girls basketball coach at Morgantown. Under White’s direction, the Mohigans won three straight state titles from 2013-2015.
Price said he stays in contact with all of his former players that are now coaches, bouncing ideas about basketball and about life off each other.
But more than the state championships, Price said that he’ll measure the success of the three new coaches by other factors, and added that he had no doubt that the three will be great coaches.
“Those three guys, those kids playing for those guys are going to have unbelievably good role models,” Price said. “They’ll have someone they can look up to. They’re good people and they’re going to find the right guys and they’ll do a great job. They’re not going to accept mediocrity, they just won’t, and that makes me proud of them.
“I don’t care if any of them win a state championship or win 25 games, as long as they’re productive and being good role models to the kids under them, they’ll be successful.”