Departing Fairmont coach: “This is a massive leap of faith for me”

Game-planning to play Wayne in a tournament showdown was the easy part for Fairmont boys basketball coach Blair Albright. Overcoming what churned within was a different ball game.

“I’ve been wrestling with internal feelings that has caused me a level of concern,” said Albright, who unexpectedly resigned on Thursday as the Firebirds head coach after six seasons. “I’ve got to a point where I need to acknowledge them and if not hitting the stop button, hitting the pause button.”

»» RELATED: New boys coach at CJ

That’s at least the 16th area boys high school basketball head coach position that will change for next season, including four among the current 20 Greater Western Ohio Conference teams. Besides the usual resignations soon after seasons end, spring also is when winter contracts – all for one season only – are addressed.

Eighteen area boys head basketball coaches made debuts last season, including four more in the GWOC.

Fairmont was unable to break through the GWOC divisional grip of Wayne, Springfield and Centerville during Albright’s run, but otherwise excelled. The Firebirds were 17-9 last season and played for a second straight Division I district championship after winning 16 games the previous season.

»» RELATED: Staley to retire as Eagles’ coach

Led by seniors Ryan Hall and Kellan Bochenek, Fairmont regrouped following the late-season death of a former teammate. The team that had lost three straight games to end the regular season overwhelmed Franklin in a D-I sectional opener, then stunned No. 3 seed Butler.

A district semifinal against Wayne was postponed over a weekend while Fairmont players and its following dealt with the fallout of losing one of its own. Fairmont defeated Wayne in an emotional and standing room-only thriller at Centerville but couldn’t keep the postseason momentum going against Lakota East in a district final. It would be Albright’s final game as Fairmont’s coach.

»» RELATED: All-Area boys basketball teams

Albright succeeded Hank Bias at Fairmont after spending the previous eight seasons as head coach at Columbus St. Francis DeSales. Fairmont was a combined 76-58 overall and 22-44 in the GWOC under Albright.

Albright addressed making up for lost family time and nodded to an uncertain future in basketball – two recurring themes among coaches who leave their profession.

“My family situation is I’m in demand at home at a level that I probably won’t be at any other point in my life,” said Albright, 40. “My girls are at a formidable age and you’re not going to get these years back.

»» RELATED: It’s a first for Trotwood-Madison boys

“This is a massive leap of faith for me. Even though I have no idea what it’s leading me toward, I have to have the faith there’s a direction for me that I can’t see at this point in time.”

Albright will remain on staff as an English teacher at Fairmont.

The following are other area programs that will have new boys head coaches next season.

Beavercreek: Mark Hess resigned after five seasons to succeed Paul Bremigan at Troy. Hess didn't have a winning season and was a combined 37-79 with the Beavers, including 8-15 last season.

Butler: Darren Wyrick resigned to succeed Jeff Sims at Fairfield. Formerly a basketball administrative assistant at Wright State, Wyrick succeeded Pat Carlisle in 2015 following a two-win season. Aviators basketball took off the last two seasons, going 19-4 and tying Sidney for the GWOC American North co-championship in 2018 followed by a 21-3 team last season that won an outright GWOC American North title. Butler was a combined 57-37 under Wyrick and 32-23 in the GWOC.

»» RELATED: Area girls basketball coaching changes

Catholic Central: Cody Sarensen resigned after three seasons to join the Wittenberg University's men's basketball staff. The Irish won consecutive Ohio Heritage Conference and D-IV district titles the last two seasons and were eliminated by eventual state champ Marion Local in 2018 and St. Henry in 2019, both Midwest Athletic Conference powers. Central was 23-4 in the 2017-18 season, 22-4 last season and a combined 60-18 under Sarensen.

CJ: Joe Staley resigned after 34 seasons as the Eagles coach and was succeeded by assistant Charlie Szabo. A 1972 Chaminade grad, Staley won 452 games at CJ, 12 Greater Catholic League North titles and nine district titles. His teams made four state final four appearances and was the D-II state runner-up in 1991. Szabo, a 1998 CJ grad, played for Staley and has coached basketball at CJ the last 15 seasons.

»» RELATED: All-Area girls basketball teams

Covington: Matt Pond resigned after seven seasons with the Buccs and successive five-win teams. The Buccs were a combined 57-103 under Pond and had one winning season, his first (12-9).

Dixie: Chris Tipton resigned after two seasons. Winless (0-23) last season, the Greyhounds will begin next season on a 24-game losing streak. Dixie was a combined 6-40 under Tipton and hasn't had a winning team since 2012-13.

Fairfield: Sims resigned after three seasons and was succeeded by Wyrick, who resigned at Butler. The Indians were 9-15 (5-11 Greater Miami Conference) last season and a combined 27-44 (15-33) under Sims. Fairfield last fielded a winning team in 2014-15 and last won a GMC title the season before, sharing the championship with Middletown.

»» RELATED: Area football head coach turnover

Fenwick: Pat Kreke was not retained after 29 seasons and 380 wins with the Falcons. Fenwick was 16-9 last season, a combined 46-27 over the last three seasons and won an outright GCL Co-Ed North title in 2018.

Fort Recovery: Mike Bashore resigned after two seasons with the Indians. He landed that position after four seasons as Greenville's head coach. His Fort Recovery teams were a combined 26-22 overall, 6-12 in the MAC and a D-IV sectional champ in 2018. The Indians were 11-12 last season.

Greenon: Kevin Taylor resigned after three seasons. The Knights were 10-13 overall and 8-8 in the OHC South last season and a combined 24-46 under Taylor. Greenon moved from the Central Buckeye Conference to the OHC in 2017 and won its first postseason game in 17 years that season. The Knights haven't had a winning boys basketball team since going 18-6 and 16-4 in the 2001-03 seasons under then-coach Bill Smith.

»» FACEBOOK: For more sports you should like Marc Pendleton

Middletown Christian: Jason Crider resigned after two seasons. The Eagles were 5-16 last season and a combined 11-35 overall and 6-22 in the Metro Buckeye Conference under Crider, previously the head coach at Preble Shawnee from 2013-16.

Northeastern: Lloyd Alexander resigned after two seasons. The Jets were 4-18 last season.

Tri-Village: Mackenzie Perry resigned after two seasons. Previously Bradford's coach, Perry succeeded the ultra-successful Josh Sagester, who remains the district superintendent. Tri-Village was 8-14 last season.

»» TWITTER: You should like @MarcPendleton

Troy: Bremigan resigned after four seasons and was succeeded by former Beavercreek coach Hess. Troy was a combined 34-58 under Bremigan and a best 10-13 last season. Prior to Troy, Bremigan was the head coach at Russia for 31 seasons (437-274) and was the D-IV state runner-up in 2002.

Yellow Springs: Bobby Crawford resigned after three seasons with the Bulldogs. Yellow Springs was a combined 20-49 overall and 5-18 last season under Crawford in the MBC.

About the Author