After a successful eight-year run, Rich Skeen has stepped down as the girls basketball coach at Sissonville High School, ending a coaching career that spans over two decades at Ripley, Tolsia, West Virginia State and with the Indians — at least for now.
Under Skeen’s direction, Sissonville’s girls program went 149-50 in eight years with four state tournament appearances, four 20-plus-win seasons and a state championship in 2015.
Skeen has been a man of many different hats in his career and served as the boys coach with the Indians for 13 years before giving way to D.J. Williams before the 2017-2018 season. That run followed an opening stint as the girls coach and boys assistant at Ripley. From there he was an assistant at West Virginia State for a year before spending a couple of years as the boys coach at Tolsia.
But for now, Skeen said it’s time to pursue some other interests.
“Obviously, I thought two years ago when I stepped away from the boys it was the toughest decision I’d ever made in my life, but I guess I’ve now learned otherwise,” Skeen said. “This one is a little tougher, because it gets me out of coaching all together. When you’ve done something for so long, it’s kind of scary. I don’t know if I can live without it. But the reason is I’ve been wanting to do some other things for so long and everything kind of fell into place and that’s why now is the time. I didn’t make the decision until about a month and a half ago.”
Among those other interests, Skeen hopes to open a greenhouse business while still serving as a teacher and the school’s athletic director.
“That might be my saving grace,” he said regarding his AD position. “I’ll still be around sports and still be around the kids and that might help me through.”
Over the years, Skeen and the Indians certainly had their fair share of success, with only one losing season coming in Skeen’s first year with a 9-14 record. Otherwise, Sissonville won at least 15 games in the last seven seasons, including a final somewhat unlikely run back to the state tournament this past season. That marked the Indians’ first state tournament appearance since making it three years in a row in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
“I’ve coached the best kids and had the best parents to work with,” Skeen said. “In my opinion, Sissonville is absolutely the best place to coach in Kanawha County and I wouldn’t want to coach any place else.”
As for the possibility of a return to the sidelines in the future, Skeen left his options very much open.
“I would never say never, other people have said that and then have come back,” Skeen said. “I just have some things I really want to do and I’ve been getting ready for that. I’ve wanted to own my own business and that takes time and I can’t just be a part-time coach. It’s an 11-month job and it’s my belief that’s the way you have to do it. I just can’t do these other things and coach.”