Ron Bailey liked what he saw when he attended a few Gahanna Lincoln High School girls basketball games during the 2016-17 season.

At the time, Bailey was working as a personal trainer and was there to support Morgan Darnell during her freshmen season with the Lions. Since then, his career path has evolved.

Bailey joined Gahanna’s coaching staff for the 2017-18 season as an assistant and recently was promoted to head coach. He replaces Betsy Baker, who stepped down May 15 following her second season.

“I met (Baker) because I was training Morgan Darnell and I was like, ‘This is a good group,’” Bailey said. “The girls were out there hustling and I thought this was something I’d love to be a part of. I’m very excited about taking over the program. I love working with the girls. They work hard. I love the school district. I love the community. I’m just excited and blessed to be a part of a great tradition.”

A 2001 East Cleveland Shaw graduate, Bailey played basketball and football at the prep level before becoming a standout running back for the Gannon University football team. He then got his start in coaching basketball.

“My friend got the Shaw (girls basketball) head coaching job and asked me to come and coach with her,” Bailey said. “I’d never really coached girls before, but I coached that one year and now I’m on the girls side forever.”

Bailey also coached the girls basketball team at Walnut Springs Middle School in Westerville before joining Baker’s staff.

Gahanna went 37-16 in two seasons under Baker. This past season, the Lions finished 19-8 and won a Division I district championship.

Ronnie Stokes Jr., a 2013 Gahanna graduate who played for Walsh, and his sister, Amber Stokes, a 2008 Gahanna graduate who played for Ohio State, both are expected to be on Bailey’s staff after coaching at the freshman level this past winter.

“I just met the Stokes (siblings) last year, and their energy and passion was always there,” Bailey said.

“It’s very exciting and a little bit of pressure because last year (Gahanna) won the district and the year before that they lost in a district final, so the program has been making progress. I just want to continue where coach Baker left off.”