A familiar face is returning to the ranks of basketball coaches as Shannon Bartruff has been approved by the Washington City Schools Board of Education to re-take the helm of the Blue Lion boys basketball program.
Bartruff coached seven seasons with the Blue Lions, from 2011 through the 2017-18 season.
He then resigned and Connor Scott became the coach.
Scott coached the Blue Lions during 2018-19 season and the first two games of the 2019-20 season.
After Scott’s sudden departure, the role of head coach was filled for the majority of the remainder of last season by Ryan Day.
“I left on my own terms,” Bartruff said. “I wasn’t pushed out. Any time someone resigns, I feel like, the innuendo is that you’ve been told that, ‘you resign or we’re going to fire you.’ That was never the case. I left because I felt like Blue Lion basketball just needed a different direction. I could have come back (in 2018-19) and we would have had a great season, because we had great athletes. We had a couple of move-ins.
“I honestly didn’t want to come back, because I was burned out,” Bartruff said. “I let some things that I couldn’t control really eat at me. It got to the point where I wasn’t enjoying it anymore.
“I’ve been out for two years and it’s felt like 10 years,” Bartruff said. “I think coaching years are like dog years, every bit; especially in basketball. It’s basically 10 months out of the year and the only reason it’s not 12 is because the OHSAA (Ohio High School Athletic Association, the governing body of athletic programs for junior and senior high schools in Ohio) has two dead periods where you can’t have contact with kids. If you’re going to be running a successful program, you’re going to be doing it 12 months out of the year.
“I had some parents who started sending me e-mails and calling, trying to gauge if I was still interested in (coaching the Blue Lions) or if I had any interest, whatsoever,” Bartruff said. “I prayed about it a lot. I touched base with a lot of people that I respect in my personal life and my professional life, as far as coaches I’ve known in the past.
“I didn’t really like the way that I left,” Bartruff said. “I was watching commencement the other night — and, kudos to Trevor (Patton) and Mr. (Tracy) Rose and everybody else who was involved in that — Mr. Dale Lynch was the speaker. He had a heart attack when he was 55 and not many people survive the type of heart attack that he had. He said it really just made him contemplate why he was here. He figured out that, if you are blessed with a gift, you need to share it.
“That’s what I’ve said this whole kind of comeback trail here, I don’t feel like I’m using the abilities that God blessed me with,” Bartruff said. ‘I feel like I have the ability to be able to communicate with young student-athletes, student-athletes in general, and I want to be able to share what I feel like God has blessed me with. And basketball is a great way to do it.
“I have been really humbled over these last couple of months with the amount of support I have received from parents in the community and teachers and coaches and even some of these players that I don’t really know yet,” Bartruff said. “I’m excited. It’s going to be a new chapter. It’s going to be a fresh restart.
“I really don’t know what we have,” Bartruff said. “I didn’t go to many games the last two years. I hardly watched basketball on TV. I was just done with it. Now, coming back, with everything that’s going on, it’s going to be kind of a crazy restart. In a perfect world, I would love to have a parent meeting; I would love to set the foundation on our expectations; I would love to have a camp and get in and have open gyms and stuff. We’re just not going to be able to do that. We’ll have to make the best of a tough situation.
“Trevor Patton has created a Google form (found on the Washington High School Twitter page, twitter.com @wchcs) that parents and student-athletes can click on and fill out,” Bartruff said. “Basically, it’s a sign-up sheet. I’m going to use that to build a data base of kids who are interested in playing next winter.
“I’m going to use that to build my workouts for the summer,” Bartruff said. “I need to know who is interested. The old days of just saying, ‘hey, we’re going to have open gym at 9:30 and whoever shows up, shows up,’ are gone. We are going to have to take attendance. We are going to have to ask them, I think, five or six covid pre-screen questions. We’re going to have to take their temperature every day. So, it’s going to be different, for sure.”
When the job came open after the end of the season, Bartruff informed the school’s athletic director, Mark Bihl, that he was interested.
“We went through the interview process and then they told me they were going to recommend me to the board,” Bartruff said. “That was over a month ago. With everything that’s been going on, the board meetings have kind of been not held at regularly-scheduled times. They had four nights of graduations that the board members had to attend.
“I didn’t officially get hired by the board until Monday (May 25),” Bartruff said.
Though he has several folks in mind to ask to become members of the coaching staff, Bartruff indicated that he was not ready to make a public announcement about that.
“I still have some guys I want to talk to,” Bartruff said. “I’m excited to get back at it. I’m excited to see what we have. I know we’re going to be really young next year. I think we only have two seniors coming back, kids who played last year. We’re going to have a nice junior class, a nice sophomore class and a nice freshman class. I think we’re going to be pretty solid at the junior high.
“I’m just excited about who our staff is going to be,” Bartruff said. “Sitting down with those guys and figuring out what they feel is best for the program moving forward. We’re going to try and get things back on track with Blue Lion basketball.”
Bartruff, who turns 41 on June 22, is a business teacher and boys golf coach at Washington High School.