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#8216;Little General#8217; Ward marches on as new Coal Grove coach

COAL GROVE — Randy Ward plans to give Coal Grove what it wants.

Ward, who has reaped success at Greenup County, Ky., and Portsmouth Clay, has been hired as the new Coal Grove boys’ basketball coach as he works to rebuild the program’s tradition.

After talking with superintendent Dr. Jim Payne and assistant superintendent Scott Dutey, Ward was convinced he wanted to coach at Coal Grove.

“They want good athletics at Coal Grove,” said Ward. “Leadership in the school is very important to having winning athletic programs. With Dr. Payne and Scott Dutey and the principal Steve Easterling, they have good leadership.”

Ward is aware that the Hornets were 0-21 last season, but that didn’t deter him from taking the job.

“They convinced me and showed me their facilities,” said Ward. “They have a good football program and good athletes and good academics. It is just a matter of working hard and things will fall in place.”

Known as “The Little General,” Ward spent 20 years as the head coach of the Greenup County (Ky.) Musketeers where he won 12 district titles, four regional championships, and one regional runner-up (2000), and reached the Elite Eight twice among his four trips to the state tournament.

Ward’s team also won 34 invitational tournaments at Greenup.

During his coaching career, Ward has won 443 games and has been a part of 500 wins with his stint as an assistant coach in Florida where he was the assistant head coach during a state championship season.

After leaving Greenup County, Ward took over a struggling program at Portsmouth Clay and posted a 57-33 record. His teams won three sectional championships and finished twice as district runners-up.

“I saw (Clay’s) freshman class through. They went to the district and that’s as far as they have been in 40 years,” Ward said.

Although Ward was faced with rebuilding once again at Clay this coming season, he opted for a different program to rebuild at Coal Grove. He plans to win, but he knows the program must walk before it runs.

“They had to rebuild at Clay again and I wanted to rebuild at another school where they have more athletes,” said Ward.

“It’s going to be a process. I rebuilt Greenup’s program and I rebuilt Clay’s program. I’m not afraid of hard work. I’m pleased with the support I’ve been given. They want a good program and the community wants a good athletic program.”

Besides his coaching on the floor, Ward created the Ohio-Kentucky All-Star Game and continues as the director.

Ward said this is not a retirement job. He plans to teach and coach.

“To be successful you have to be in the school and get to know the people and interact with the kids,” said Ward.