It’s on Kyle Boze to keep Fairmont girls basketball at the highest level.
Boze, 27, was approved by the Kettering board of education as the new Fairmont High School varsity girls basketball coach on Tuesday night. He succeeds Lacy Drake, who resigned after five mostly successful seasons.
“It was one of the worst-kept rumors around Fairmont the past few days,” admitted Boze. “It’s been a whirl-wind 48 hours.”
» RELATED: D-I baseball top seeds, pairings
This is one of 10 area girls basketball programs that will feature a new head coach for the 2018-19 season, including another Greater Western Ohio Conference team, West Carrollton.
It will be the first head coach position for Boze and also his first in girls basketball. He has extensive experience as a varsity assistant, JV head coach and freshman head coach with the Centerville boys program. He also previously coached Beavercreek’s boys freshmen.
»RELATED: D-II baseball top seeds, pairings
“All that prepared me for this,” he said. “When you put in the work and people embrace what you’re about and what you stand for there are always opportunities to coach.”
Boze is a business teacher in the Kettering City School District and is well known among returning Firebirds players.
»RELATED: D-III baseball top seeds, pairings
Fairmont rebounded last season by going 17-9 overall and 7-5 in the GWOC National East, which was good for a tie for second with Centerville. Fairmont defeated Tecumseh 50-35 to win a Division I sectional championship, then lost 53-29 to Lakota West in a district final.
Seven of Fairmont’s top eight scorers were underclassmen. That includes 6-foot-3 sophomore Madeline Westbeld (11.3 points, 11.1 rebounds), 6-3 sophomore Madison Bartley (11.1 and 7.5) and 6-foot junior Mali Morgan-Elliott (10.8 and 6.4).
»RELATED: D-IV baseball top seeds, pairings
Fairmont’s best team with Drake as coach was her first when the Firebirds were 23-3 and tied with Centerville for the GWOC Central Division title in 2013-14. A senior on that team was Kathryn Westbeld, also a senior starter on the University of Notre Dame’s national champions this year. She’s the older sister of Madeline Westbeld.
Drake was a combined 79-48 overall and 32-22 in the conference.
Fairmont won a D-I state championship in the 2012-13 season with Tim Cogan as coach. That was the fourth straight season Fairmont advanced to a D-I state final four and the third consecutive year the Firebirds played in a state championship. Cogan resigned to take over the boys program at Carroll and was succeeded by Drake.
Boze huddled with returning players and administration on Tuesday.
“What I can promise is you’re not going to find some who’s more invested in helping accomplish goals than me or a program in Ohio that works harder than us,” he said.