Originally intending to be an assistant to Pickerington High School North boys basketball coach Pete Liptrap for the 2013-14 season, Jerry Groves' plans quickly changed when Liptrap told him he was retiring.
"He asked me if I'd be interested in taking over," said Groves, who was 93-57 at Mount Vernon from 1998-2005 and 45-62 at Pickerington Central from 2005-10. "I had planned to be an assistant this year, which would have been Pete's last year, and I thought it'd be great to be around a coach who's meant so much to me ever since I played."
Groves, a 1988 Pickerington graduate, and Liptrap stayed close after their player-coach relationship ended. Groves played college basketball at Muskingum, taught the same subjects as Liptrap and said Liptrap was "100 percent" responsible for his own foray into coaching.
Groves has remained close to the game since ending a five-year stint at Pickerington Central in 2010, scouting for various teams on occasion and establishing Blacktop Basketball, a personal-training service for high school players. His organization currently works with 83 athletes.
"The only thing I got away from as far as basketball is concerned was being a head coach," Groves said. "I love the game, but I was glad to get away from some of the administrative stuff and everything that comes with being a head coach for a few years."
North athletics director Molly Feesler said Groves will be an interim coach because there was not enough time to complete a full search. Groves oversaw the Panthers at a team camp in late June at Ohio University.
Groves and his wife of 20 years, Jane, have two children -- Jessica, 16, a junior at North and J.J., 8, a third-grader at Violet Elementary.