Ryan Grashel learned enough about the New Albany boys basketball team, not to mention the Eagles’ entire athletic program, as an opponent to know it was one of the few places for which he might consider leaving Groveport.
After going 95-95 in eight seasons with the Cruisers, Grashel was announced as the Eagles’ new coach May 21.
“I haven’t applied for another coaching job in six years but when this one came along, my wife and I sat down and had a discussion about going for this job,” Grashel said. “I appreciate (New Albany’s) discipline and toughness and the product they put out in all sports. They won 15 games last season and I want to continue to build and grow the program. It’s an exciting opportunity.”
Grashel succeeds Sam Davis, whose contract was not renewed after he went 275-182 in 20 seasons at New Albany. His tenure included five OCC-Capital Division championships and two district titles.
Davis was named girls coach at Watterson in mid-May.
Grashel is a 2005 graduate of South Webster who helped the Jeeps to a Division IV state semifinal as a junior. He went to Groveport in 2010, coaching middle school for a year and the freshman team the next season before becoming head coach in 2012.
The Cruisers advanced to a Division I district final in 2015-16, their first appearance at that stage in 21 years, and made district semifinals the year before and year after.
New Albany went 15-8 overall and 7-3 in the league last season, losing to Reynoldsburg 59-55 in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
The Eagles’ top scorer is eligible to return in sophomore forward Justin Perry, who averaged 14.7 points, as well as junior forward Braedon Elwer.
New Albany swept two OCC-Capital meetings from Groveport last season.
“They graduated a lot of seniors but Perry and some of their younger guys were impressive,” Grashel said. “I think we can succeed with what we have coming back.”
Groveport finished 10-13 overall and 4-6 in the OCC-Capital and lost to Westerville South 73-50 in the first round of the district tournament.
“I’ve been able to reflect about things a little bit. Groveport has meant so much to me,” Grashel said. “(Athletics director) Steve Petros gave me a chance at 24 years old to be a coach and that’s almost unheard of. This definitely was a difficult decision and one not easily made.”