BY SHERI TRUSTY
Port Clinton High School alumnus, Jared Rhode, a 1999 graduate and former basketball player, is stepping back onto the court as the new varsity boys basketball coach. Although the head position is new to Rhode, the school’s basketball program is not. He has 19 years of coaching experience and spent the last 10 years as a Port Clinton assistant coach.
Rhode, a 20-year educator who has been a science teacher at Port Clinton for 10 years, said taking this next step fulfills a longtime dream.
“It’s something I always wanted to do, but the timing had to be right,” Rhode said. “As I waited for the opportunity, I was blessed to work with some great coaches. I’ve learned under Troy Deils, Von Graffin and Ryan Hicks. When Ryan left recently, I found it was a great opportunity to fill in and take over the program.”
Rhode hopes to replicate for his team the positive experience he had on the Port Clinton court.
“I loved it. I was super competitive, and I had a coach who was super competitive, so he instilled that fire in me,” Rhode said.
Rhode said his high school coach, Gregg Hedden, was a “no nonsense type of guy” who set a good example for his players.
“I hope to instill the same values in our team. I’ll strive to be a good role model for the kids in terms of hard work and discipline,” he said. “I’ll strive to develop a good rapport and push them to be the best they can be both on and off the court.”
Rhode said his team is looking at a strong year if they are willing to put forth the effort both individually and collaboratively.
“I think it’s going to be a year where we can compete if we work hard, work together, and trust each other,” he said.
This year’s team will be buoyed by senior Jackson Beasley.
“He’s a strong player, and I expect great leadership and great communication from him,” Rhode said. “We have other great players as well, like varsity letter winners Travis Yarnell and James Crowe. All three of them are seniors. They’ve given the game and the program a lot of time, and I hope they regain the benefits. We’ll rely on their leadership.”
Rhode is also expecting strong performances from Aiden Finn, Gabe Koskela and Zach Speer, who will be moving up from JV this season.
“If we’re going to be our best, these guys are going to have to step up,” Rhode said. “The players will have a goal of winning a lot of games, but everyone will need to be on the same page and contribute across the board.”
Rhode said he is experiencing a “mix of emotions” as he faces his first year as head coach.
“I’m very proud to be head coach of the program I once participated in. My wife is a teacher here, and my daughters are students, so we have a lot of Port Clinton pride,” Rhode said. “I don’t take this position lightly. I’ll be all in.”
At the same time, Rhode said there is an element of nervousness as he looks forward to the season, but he’ll harness those nerves to become a better coach.
“I don’t want to let the kids down. I don’t want to let the community down,” he said. “All those emotions will push me to do the best I can do.”