When Canal Winchester High School athletics director Kent Riggs began his search for boys and girls basketball coaches last month, he received applications for both positions from across the state.
As it turned out, he didn't have to look very far to find who he believes were the best candidates to fill the positions.
Riggs, who coached the boys team for nearly three decades, has chosen his long-time assistant, Lyndell Snyder, to be his successor, and has hired Willie Jordan, who has coached in the school district for nearly a decade, to coach the girls team.
"I feel good about the guys we've hired because they're both good people and good coaches who already live in the community and feel comfortable here," Riggs said. "I feel confident that Lyndell and Willie will both do a good job of keeping our basketball programs moving forward."
Snyder, 42, is a 1989 Canal Winchester graduate who finished his prep career with 1,036 points and earned first-team all-state honors as a senior before going on to play for the University of Rio Grande.
Snyder served as Riggs' assistant the past 15 seasons.
"Lyndell's been a loyal community person and an outstanding coach for us the past several years, so he deserves this opportunity," said Riggs, who compiled a 422-194 record and won seven Mid-State League titles, five district championships and a regional title in 27 seasons.
"He's a good coach when it comes to the Xs and Os, but his strength is his relationships with the kids. The kids play hard for him."
Last season, the boys team finished 7-16 overall and placed seventh in the OCC-Cardinal Division at 2-12, behind champion Westerville Central (13-1).
"I just want to take what Kent accomplished here and run with it," Snyder said. "Kent established a great tradition and I want to keep that going while tweaking a few things here and there. I'd like to play an up-tempo style of basketball and play tough man-to-man defense."
While earning a teaching degree from Rio Grande, Snyder coached the junior varsity at Cheshire River Valley during the 1994-95 season. He then coached Heritage Christian Academy from 1995-99 before being hired to teach physical education at Canal Winchester.
In 2000, Snyder's first season as an assistant under Riggs, the Indians won their only regional title to advance to a Division III state semifinal, where they lost to eventual champion Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary 63-53 to finish 24-2.
LeBron James was a freshman at SVSM that season and scored 19 points against the Indians.
"I learned a lot from Kent during the countless hours we spent together in the coaches' room bouncing ideas off each other," Snyder said. "Kent donated so much of his time to the program behind the scenes and he taught me the importance of doing the little things right and paying attention to detail."
Snyder's son Brendan was a junior guard with the Indians last season, earning second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district honors. His son Brady played for the Canal Winchester Middle School seventh-grade team this past winter.
"I have a vested interest in this program with both of my sons playing basketball here," Snyder said. "I'd like for us to be competitive in every game. I also want to see us contend for a league title and win a couple of tournament games. I'm excited for the community because I think we have the potential to have a good season."
Jordan coached the seventh-grade boys team the last nine seasons and has coached AAU teams the last 21 years.
He coached the junior varsity boys team at Hartley during the 1998-99 season and has experience coaching girls, serving as the j.v. coach for the Columbus East girls program from 2009-11 and the j.v. coach for the Brookhaven girls program from 2011-13.
Jordan coached Canal Winchester's seventh-grade boys team simultaneously with the East girls j.v. and the Brook-haven girls j.v.
"Willie did a great job as coach of our seventh-grade boys basketball team and he has experience coaching AAU and high school girls teams as well," Riggs said. "He loves the game of basketball and will work hard at it."
Jordan replaces Gary Burke, who compiled a 27-61 record in four seasons at Canal Winchester. Last season, the Indians finished 7-16 overall and went 5-9 in the OCC-Cardinal to place sixth, behind champion Westerville North (13-1). They went 3-8 in games decided by eight points or fewer.
"I want to try and rebuild the program," Jordan said. "The first thing I want to do is get more enthusiasm from the kids and their parents. I want to get more kids interested in playing basketball at a young age.
"The kids have talent. They just need to play together as a team. I'm going to start with more discipline and attention to detail. They lost a lot of close games last year and I think we can win those games if we're more focused and disciplined."
Jordan, 51, has established short- and long-term goals for the Indians, who are expected to return five starters next season in sophomore point guard Kaylee Guiler, junior forwards Raven Hamilton and Jasmine Smith, sophomore post player Marina Rarick and junior guard Taylor Thompson.
"Our goal for this coming season is to finish at least .500, which will be difficult to do but is possible," Jordan said. "We also want to change this team's mentality over time to the point where we enter every season expecting to win."
Track teams compete in district meet
The track and field teams competed in the Division I, district 3 meet held May 21, 22 and 24 at Hilliard Darby.
The top four finishers in each event qualified for the regional meet that began May 28 and concludes Friday, May 30, at Pickerington North.
Qualifying for regional for the girls team during the first two days of the district meet were senior Gretchen Rosch in the pole vault (second, 12 feet), sophomore Julia Blum in the long jump (second, 17-1/4) and sophomore Megan Tamasovich in the high jump (tied for third, 5-2).
Advancing to regional for the boys team during the first two days of district competition were senior Jermil Powell in the high jump (second, 6-4) and freshman Danny Jones in the discus (third, 143-4).
The top four finishers in each regional event advance to state June 6 and 7 at Ohio State.