WHS looking for new girls’ basketball coach


WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE — Washington High School is in the process of finding a new head girls varsity basketball coach.

After seven seasons, head coach Samantha Bihl was non-renewed by the Washington Court House City School District.

The Record-Herald reached out to Bihl and the school’s athletic director, Greg Phipps, to get their reactions.

“I feel like a lot of people really don’t know what goes on (in a basketball program) unless you’ve been a part of it,” Bihl said. “I think that anyone who has been inside our program, whether they played for me, or worked with me, they know that I care.”

“They know that I have high expectations for our kids,” Bihl said. “When it’s all said and done, I’m going to do what’s best for the kids and best for the program. I think that they know that I understand the game and that they know I’m going to expect them to work hard. But, with that, I’m also going to reward them.”

After every season, coaches are evaluated.

The Record-Herald requested and received from Bihl a copy of the most recent evaluation by athletic director Phipps, dated March 8, 2023.

“Evaluation from last year (3/4/22): We discussed numbers in program and how the B of E (Board of Education) was very concerned/mentioned giving it one more year.

“This year started with 37 girls on four teams and ended with 31. We won three varsity regular season games and one tourney game.

“Every coach is non-renewed then rehired. Being that numbers and record hasn’t improved from last year, you will be non-renewed and don’t believe will have the votes to be rehired by the B of E.

“You can let me know in two days if you want to resign from position, or I will have to follow through with non-renewing your contract.”

Bihl responded to the evaluation.

“There was no expectation or understanding that, this year it was like, ‘hey, you’re on a one-year trial to see if you can keep your job,’” Bihl said.

“I responded to him on Friday (two days later) and there was no communication back to me and there’s been none since that,” Bihl said. “Other than, they just asked for my keys.”

Bihl spoke about the issue regarding the number of participants in the girls basketball program.

“Basketball is a hard sport,” Bihl said. “Any coach will tell you that, if you want to have a successful program, it’s hard work. Numbers are an issue at a lot of different schools, it’s not just Court House. We had a j-v team this year; we had one last year. So, numbers improved, because, we did not have a j-v team three years ago, I want to say. A lot of other schools don’t have j-v teams.”

“I will say that I don’t want to beg kids to come out and play and then not enjoy it,” Bihl said. “Because I do know it’s hard. I want kids to want to be there. I also want to compete and win. If you want numbers and kids that have never played the sport before and not be successful, then maybe you’ll get that. That’s going to create a lot more issues than anything else.”

Bihl spoke about the folks she worked with over the past seven seasons.

“Anyone that’s ever coached with me, I’ve appreciated their time and their effort,” Bihl said. “Especially coach (Mychal) Turner. I’ve always felt honored that he has been willing to coach with me. He’s coached for over 40 years in our community and he knows the game so well. He was my coach when I was younger and I’ve just always appreciated him being a part of the program with me.”

“I know the kids love him, too,” Bihl said.

“What I want people to remember is that I care,” Bihl said. “The second thing is, I do things the right way. I feel like that’s coaching with integrity, that’s a big part of what I wanted my program to be. I wanted my kids to be respectful, on and off the court. I want my kids to learn the game of basketball, but I also want to teach them life lessons.”

“Ninety percent of our kids are not going to play college basketball,” Bihl said. “I would love that (if they did). That’s just not the reality. So, I want them to be able to take more from it. I think that all of my kids would say that they gained valuable life lessons going through our program. I think that, especially at the high school level, that’s what it should be about; learning basketball, but also learning more than that.”

“The last thing is, just trying to create a family atmosphere,” Bihl said. “And building relationships with my kids. Almost all of them that have graduated, I still keep in contact with, try to get coffee with or just check in with to see how they’re doing. I think that’s a big part of it, too. Just building relationships with them and hoping they do that with each other.”

“I really tried hard to create a unique experience for our kids, in the sense of providing them extra opportunities because I wanted them to be a part of something special,” Bihl said.

Bihl, also the girls’ tennis coach at Washington High School for the past six seasons, said she will not return in that position.

However, she does not rule out the possibility that she will coach again, somewhere, at some time.

“I’m not closing the door on coaching again,” Bihl said. “I want to find a place where I feel supported and valued, and I’m hopeful another opportunity will come up that’s just right for my family.”

“I know there has been a ton of people that have supported me and the program over the seven years,” Bihl said. “I have appreciated that. There have been a lot of really good people at Court House that have helped me throughout my coaching career and my time there and I’m very appreciative of those people.

“Ultimately, I’m thankful for my time at Court House,” Bihl said. “I think it was a great place for me to start my coaching career. I’m excited for other opportunities.”

Bihl is married and she and her husband, Justin Bihl, have a young daughter, Josephine, whom they call Joey.

Phipps explained about the process of hiring a new girls varsity basketball coach.

“We started a search on the OHSAA (Ohio High School Athletic Association) website on the 17th of March and put it out there for two weeks,” Phipps said. “And, a district-wide (announcement about the position). Today (April 3) is the last day anyone can apply.”

“Now we are working on setting up interviews,” Phipps said. “Which, we will start that interview process toward the middle or end of this week. Our goal is to hire a head coach toward the end of April so they will have some time to start planning and getting prepared with their athletes for this summer.”

“Basically, all I can tell you is, her position was non-renewed,” Phipps said. “We appreciate everything she did for the Lady Lion program.”

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