Having coached against the Canal Winchester boys basketball team twice a year for the past four seasons, Zach Olson got a sense of what athletics mean to the community from his seat as a Newark assistant coach.

“They have great history and tradition. It’s a great district and community,” Olson said. “I got a sense that they value athletics as a whole and combine that really well with their academics and entire community.”

Pending school board approval, Olson will be the Indians’ next coach, succeeding Lyndell Snyder. Olson spent the past six seasons with the Wildcats in a variety of roles, including varsity assistant and junior varsity coach.

Snyder resigned March 11 after going 81-62 in six seasons.

Canal Winchester athletics director Pat Durbin announced Olson’s hire April 30.

“To be honest, I think it’s a lifetime job,” Olson said. “I’ve just tried to prepare every day and get better at my craft. When an opportunity like this came along, I couldn’t pass it up.”

Olson, who played at Muskingum from 2005-09 and then served as a graduate assistant at Frostburg State for two years, was Licking Heights’ athletics director from 2011-14.

Newark has won the past four OCC-Capital Division championships. The Wildcats also won two Division I district titles and were district runners-up twice in Olson’s tenure.

Canal Winchester went 16-8 overall and 5-5 in the OCC-Capital this past season and will have to replace most of its production, including 1,032-point career scorer Bilal Sow and Cole Metzler. Sow averaged 19.0 points and 7.5 rebounds, and Metzler averaged 11.2 points and 9.0 rebounds.

Four players are eligible to return in juniors Andre’ Heglar (forward/guard), Anthony Milner (guard) and Graham Snider (guard) and sophomore Stephan Byrd (forward).

“(Olson’s) passion for excellence came through very clearly during the interview process,” Durbin said. “He has a vision for the development of his players as well as his program.”

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave